It's frustrating, isn't it? You define tasks that you need your subordinate(s) to do, provide them the resources they need, and send them on their way to get it done. You wait. You notice it's not getting done. You wait some more. It still isn't getting done. You call in your subordinates and inquire about the task. You get an ambiguous answer. You send the employees back out to perform the task. You wait even more. It still doesn't get done. What's going on here?
According to Ferdinand Fournies, author of Why Employees Don't Do What They're Supposed To Do and What To Do About It, there are 16 specific reasons why.
16 Reasons Employees Don't Do What They Are Supposed To Do
- They don't know why they should do it.
- They don't know how to do it.
- They don't know what they are supposed to do.
- They think your way will not work.
- They think their way is better.
- They think something else is more important.
- There are no positive consequences for doing the task.
- They think they are doing it when they, in actuality, are not.
- They are rewarded for not doing it.
- They are punished for doing what they are supposed to do.
- They expect a negative consequence for doing it.
- Their poor performance does not receive a negative consequence.
- There are obstacles beyond their control.
- Their personal limits prevent them from completing the task.
- Personal Issues.
- The task cannot be done.
Each of the reasons listed above is easily neutralized, but it requires the manager to consider each reason when the task is delegated. The next time you delegate a task to a subordinate, go through a checklist that addresses the items:
- Have I told my employee why the task must be done?
- Does the employee have the requisite skills to perform the task? If not, how can I train the employee? Is there someone else who is better qualified to perform the task?
- Have I made my expectations clear about outcomes? Have I explained the task clearly enough that the employee will know when they are doing the task well? Do they have enough information to self-monitor?
- Have I explained why my procedure is the best way? Is my way really the best? Have I allowed the employee to discuss the procedure to be followed with me? Have they had input?
- Have I explained how this project fits in with the company's priorities? Have I clarified this project's importance?
- Have I provided an incentive for good performance? Does the employee know that I'm monitoring their performance? Is there a negative consequence for not performing? Through my actions or behavior, am I unconsciously rewarding the employee for not performing?
- Does the employee perceive a negative consequence resulting if the task is done well?
- Are they ill-equipped to navigate around obstacles that may arise? Are there things that I need to provide the employee to equip them to deal with potential obstacles?
- Is the task or project even possible? Are there issues that are present that preclude completion of the task?
Yeah, that's a lot to think about. But, thinking about these things now prevents the manager from having to make corrections later.