With our day-to-day work environments so demanding and when things don't go as they should, our first reaction is to look for who to hold responsible. While I am certainly a champion of accountability and good performance management, here are three critical test points to consider, as taught in our executive development program, Avoiding Wonderland in Leadership. 1. Is this a HOW TO issue? Is the employee or team crystal clear as to exactly how this effort is to be completed, or are they in "Wonderland"? Has the employee or team been given
the appropriate level of direction and instruction as to what was to be accomplished?
the reasoning behind the need for this effort (the "why")?
the training needed to complete the task?
If yes, then proceed to #2.
2. Is this a CAN'T DO issue? Are there other reasons that the employee or team is unable to complete this effort? Has the employee or team been given
the proper tools and resources needed to get the job done?
sufficient staffing to complete the task in the time requested?
the appropriate amount of time needed to complete the task?
If yes, then proceed to #3.
"Is this a HOW TO, CAN'T DO or WANT TO issue?"
3. Or is this a WANT TO issue? Yes, it is very possible that the employee or team does not want to put forth this effort or complete the task. If you have determined that all the criteria of HOW TO and CAN'T DO have been met, then this is certainly quite possible. And while we may first think that disciplinary action is order (and it may be), first be sure to consider
Is the task or effort requested within the expectations of his or her role?
Does the employee clearly understand and agree that it is an expectation of their role? Has it been clearly communicated to them previously?
Why, specifically, do they not want to do the task and what can you or the organization do to assist them is this effort?
So, the question remains, "What if they still refuse to do it?"
While every situation is unique, I would have to say that if all other factors have been considered and appropriate support, resources and time accommodations are provided (when possible), then certainly a deeper performance conversation may be warranted.
The important thing to remember is that in evaluation of employee and team performance, the assessment begins first with the actions of the leader, the organization as a whole, and the support and resources provided to his team members.