Brampton - Leslie and Alex were always the best of employees. Now neither individual can be counted on to perform their job well. Change the names and you could be talking about any employees in any given firm. This type of situation not only impacts the employees but the organization as a whole. Let's examine the two situations.
Leslie is part of a team of 8 people. One year ago Leslie's team numbered 15.The company's sales fell off sharply. The identified solution was to cut expenses to match the reduced revenue. Correctly or not, labour cost was identified as the easiest to reduce.
Intellectually Leslie understands the business aspect all to well. However, this does not do much for the reduction in the level of anxiety. Will Leslie be next to go? What opportunities are available in the job market today?
These unanswered questions have increased Leslie's stress level. The result is a loss of focus. This poor focus resulted in poor quality work; items being overlooked. At this rate, Leslie's performance could result in a self fulfilling prophecy and may result in Leslie being the next laid off.
With Alex we have a different scenario. Alex has been doing the same job for the past eight years. In the beginning it was exciting. The job complexity meant new skills and concepts required mastering. There was also variety in what the clients wanted. This kept the job stimulating and Alex looked forward to coming to work.
Now every client expectation has been experienced countless times. Nothing comes up that has not come up before. The daily routine Alex says is "something that can be done in my sleep". This means that Alex has time to take mental vacations. To think of what is going on this evening with friends and family. To consider what the weekend will be like in terms of both weather and activity. The result here is exactly the same as with Leslie, poor performance and decreased client satisfaction.
Each situation has a different cause, one is stress based while the other is one of pure boredom. The solution is similar yet a bit different in both circumstances.I t involves truly understanding the root cause of the behaviour. A basic tool for that analysis is the WHY 5 in which like a child you keep asking "Why is that" until a final answer is found.
With the root cause identified a specific and measureable plan for change can be developed and implemented. Again a basic set of questions referred to as the WHAT 5 is used. You keep asking "What if that happens?" to a proposed solution until you arrive at a solution that truly provides the results desired.
Do you have an Alex or Leslie working for you? If so, how are you handling them?
Copyright Gordon J. H. Newman, CPT 2009