Time management for those with problem employees
Having eaten my share of turkey during the recent holiday season, I’m reminded of an exercise I use in my management seminars that you might want to try, especially if you have a poor-performing employee.
First, divide all the employees who report to you into three categories:
Eagles: those who constantly exceed your expectations. These are the people who always do a great job, who take initiative to go beyond what the job requires and make you glad you hired them.
Sparrows: those who come to work, do a good job and go home. They may not constantly excel but they show up and get the work done. Some of these birds are potential eagles.
Turkeys: those who either do a poor job or create so many problems in the workplace that any good work they do is negated. There may be a potential eagle in this bunch, but he somehow hasn’t gotten the wake up call to straighten up and fly right.
Now ask yourself: with which group do I spend most of my time interacting? The Eagles? The Sparrows? Or the Turkeys? If you’re like 90% of those who attend my management seminars, the answer is: the Turkeys.
You spend time coaching them to improve, encouraging them to try harder and threatening to fire them if they don’t. You discuss their personal problems with them. You write letters to put in their file. You even give them extra chances to correct their behavior.
Additionally, you spend time with HR to make sure everything you’re doing meets the appropriate guidelines.
And sometimes the employee in question gets back on track and your hard work is rewarded. More often, however, your efforts are fruitless or the improvement is only temporary. So you start the correction process all over again. This can go on for years.
All the while, you lament the cost to the company that the turkey’s poor performance has caused. But have you considered the cost of your own time, especially the hours you could have spent coaching your sparrows to become eagles and your eagles to soar even higher?
It’s ironic that we invest so much of our precious managerial time with our losers while ignoring our winners. I would suggest that much of this misappropriation of our time is of our own doing. Either we want to help the turkeys because we feel we can “fix” them or we simply respond to them because “squeaky wheels get the grease.”
If this is the case with you, I suggest that you turn the distribution of your time around. Purposely start spending more time with your eagles than with anyone else. They’re your winners so they are your best bets for providing a return on your investment of time. Spend the second most amount of time coaching and challenging your sparrows to grow.
Finally, spend the least amount of time with your turkeys. Your investment of time in him may save one but, even if it does, ask yourself: “What’s the best he will ever become?” If the answer is to be a low or medium functioning sparrow, wouldn’t it be better to let him go and find a potential eagle to take his place?
We all have only a limited amount of time to invest in our employees. Are you investing your time with the right groups?
© 2005 Larry Johnson – 480-948-5596