Employee Problems: When Work is Not Getting Done

by Business Coach Chuck

Does each employ have his/her own responsibilities? In owner operated businesses it is often tempting to have a lot of blended responsibilities. If you see that something needs to be done then do it. Another way this is viewed is that every one does everything. Generally speaking (and there are always exceptions to the general rule) this is a very bad idea. Lets say you have 3 employees in a certain space. Chances are that two of those employees are very good, conscientious workers. One of them is willing to ride on the coattails of the other two. One of the other two is going to notice that the third one is doing less and will begin to do less. This leaves the 1st person to carry the whole load. At this point, the first one may end up leaving. Or the 1st one may start to develop a difficult attitude. The other two will magnify any evidence of bad attitude or work slippage in
the first in order to draw attention away from their own performance. Or, maybe the 1st one will join the other two in a race to see who can do the least.

Any of these scenarios is very bad. Beyond the obvious bad result is that this is the kind of situation that personality disputes can get particularly nasty. Since very little work is being done, the disputes are never substantive but revolve around personal issues that can make the work environment hell and an endless chain of blame, none of which end in work getting done.

So, the first step creating a cooperative work environment is to have each persons job clearly defined. In this way, work that is done well can be rewarded. If work is not meeting expectation, the issue can be addressed. First of all, we point out that it didn't get done, but approach this topic with an open and curious mind as to why.

This is an excellent place to utilize what a system that Toyota developed. It is called, ask why 5 times. When we ask why, and then ask why to that answer and why to that answer and follow it to the underlying dynamic, we get real answers. So, lets say that business is off in the older teen jewelry. When speaking to the salesperson, we find out that young people are not coming into the store the way they used to come in. The answer to why that is true might require us to ask, are we doing something different than we used to do. In the process of discovery we realize that we stopped advertising for class rings because they were a money loser. Why did we make that decision, we had impended a plan of cutting out products below a certain profit margin. That leads us to another question. Are there other products were loss leaders that we cut out that have adversely or are in the process of adversely affecting other lines of business? Thank you very much.

This is a process that brings issues out of the realm of blame and into the realm of dynamic decision-making. There are two ingredients: 1- a clear line of responsibility so that when an issue arises, we know exactly who to talk to, and 2- an open and curious mind as to the answer.