Home > Management, People > Not delivering the results?

Not delivering the results?

I don’t know about you but I have run into the situation where a great employee  is not delivering the results that the business needs.  Here is the question that I ask myself:

If I put that person in a Life or Death situation where they face death if they are unable to deliver the results.  Are they able to deliver the results?

And the options are:

  • if they are able to deliver the results: – then there is a motivation issue
  • if they are still not able to deliver the results: –  then there is a skills issue

I do not recommend that you put any of your people in a Life or Death situation.  For me, the ideal approach is to have conversations with them to determine what the issue(s) are.  As long as you have already established a culture where they can share issues without any repercussions, they will share with you.

Categories: Management, People Tags: ,
  1. November 21st, 2009 at 13:04 | #1

    Hey SparkPilot-
    I enjoy your blog, it is both insightful and entertaining, thanks for doing this.

    Re: your last post (life or death), while I agree on you first case, I am not sure I agree on the second one-

    If a trainer asks a trainee to do 100 pushups in one minute, and the trainee fails to do it, clearly the trainee does not have the skills to do the task, but was the request feasible? Have other trainees of similar size and fitness done it? Just one exceptional individual or several others? Is the trainer able to do it, so he/she expects others to do it as well? is that reasonable for the level of skills/experience/age/…?

    So the manager confronted with a great employee not delivering needs to evaluate a variety of facets:
    • current vs past performance and performance vs peers, but also
    • goal’s increased difficulty at current time vs at the time assigned, and
    • other hitherto unknown issues affecting the results of an appropriately skilled employee.

    So going back to your bullets:
    • if they are able to deliver the results: – then there is a motivation issue
    • if they are still not able to deliver the results, then:
    • the employee lacks some skills, or
    • the employee has the skills, but
    • he/she is impeded by factors I am not aware, or
    • the difficulty of the task was incorrectly assessed or
    • the difficulty of the task has increased and I did not realize it

    I agree it is critical to provide a safe environment were the employee can share the increased challenges he/she is facing, so the manager can provide more directions and/or help removing the factors impeding the employee’s performance.

    Often we have limited ability to change goals once established, but we can help employees achieve them but keeping them motivated and helping them overcome the unforeseen problems that might have made the goals more challenging than intended.

    love all your pics by the way, and most of all love the seagull analogy… 🙂

  2. November 21st, 2009 at 17:11 | #2


    Thanks for pointing this out. While I was writing the post, I was working on the presumption that the request is “reasonable” and therefore the probability of the employee successfully completing the task is very good. Thank you for reminding me that I should not make assumptions like this when writing a post.

    You also raise a great point regarding the existence of external factors that could be impacting the employee’s ability deliver. This is why a climate of open communication is so important because the employee needs to feel safe to share any issues that might be impacting their ability to succeed. I have seen family and health issues impact delivery rather significantly.

    Thank you very much for your comment and providing this additional insight.


  3. November 25th, 2009 at 07:02 | #3

    Excellent blogpost, amazing looking weblog, added it to my favorites.

  4. December 3rd, 2009 at 06:32 | #4

    Nice blog. There are other possibilities which must be considered. Does the employee understand the business results being sought and, if so, are there any constraints which may have inhibited their effectiveness in bringing those results about? I myself have been in situations where the scope of the project has not been explained adequately initially and resulted in a waste of efforts on my part and having to go back to square one once additional information was provided. Whenever there are performance difficulties, I think we have to look at both sides of the equation and ask whether all participants understand what the goals are, what the resources are, and what the time requirements are.

    Another issue which comes to mind is the habit of some employees to refrain from saying anything which indicates disagreement with the goals or how to go about approaching them. Many employees will accept a virtually impossible project without ever pointing out the issues which stand in the way of achieving success. There is obviously a communication problem, and this may require an in-depth discussion of the expectations and likelihood of meeting them.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

© 2008-2021 Gavin McMurdo aka SparkPilot All Rights Reserved