Don’t Drag It Out

At one time or another, every manager struggles with how to handle a weak employee. Perhaps she has adequate technical skills but lousy interpersonal skills. Perhaps he just doesn’t want to be there and creates a toxic environment complaining about everything that is awful about your company.

Make a decision. If the pros don’t measurably outweigh the cons, take action. Whatever you do, don’t drag it out.

This isn’t easy, especially when the person has positive attributes that everyone recognizes. But the damage caused by delaying the inevitable is bad for everyone: for the employee, for the co-workers, and for you.

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Clarify Your “Ask”

How effectively do you communicate requests to your employees? Do you ask for something on the fly as you run off to your next meeting without allowing time for clarification? Are they saying (probably behind your back!) that they don’t have a clue what you asked?

Unclear communication often comes from not thinking through what needs to be said. For example, you may say that you need help on a project. If you don’t articulate your specific need, people may perform different tasks that are not necessary or are counter-productive.

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Walking the Line Between Manager and Friend

One of my clients, Simon, was impressed by one of his young direct reports, Joe. Joe showed great potential during the first few years he worked for Simon. He stepped up to any challenge, went the extra mile, and garnered favor from Simon as time went on.

They spent more social time together, went to lunch, and shared their love for baseball. In short, their professional relationship also became a friendship.

Eventually Joe’s professional limitations caught up with him. His work became sloppy, he missed deadlines, and he became expert in making excuses. He hid behind his friendship with Simon to avoid accountability.

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Does Anyone Talk Any More?

Remember telephones? There has been such a shift away from using them that many companies discourage calling. Email promotions are sent without including phone numbers for more information. You need to click through the contact page of some web sites to find a phone number.

The irony of this, of course, is that the smart phone is the dominant communication device and it’s used far more for other things than for talking. Curiously, making calls is the fifth most used app on a smart phone.

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