Customer Service Difficult People Employee Accountability Leadership Taking Action Uncategorized

When employees are not meeting expectations, who should step up and take action? You may be SHOCKED at the answer!

Not very long ago, a first-level supervisor asked me to work with him. Although I do support employees at all levels of organizations, typically, I am hired by the company and start at the top. His employer is not a client (well, at least not yet!)

I asked this supervisor, I will call Joe, for more information to be sure his needs matched with my skillset.

Joe said he knew there was a problem but could not figure it out. Joe explained that his manager, “just turned cold.” I accepted the job. This problem seemed to be an apparent failure by his manager to provide feedback. 

We worked through suggested conversation options for Joe to initiate with his manager. Joe did that and learned that his Team was not meeting the expectations of the company. Joe was surprised by this news. He was not clear of any unmet expectations. As we dug further, the details were not even totally clear to the mid-level manager. The manager was getting “pressure from the top.”

This company seems to be a good one. They possess a skill for creativity and stepping above the norm. They appear to care about both the customers and employees. But, no one can read minds. Well, at least no one I know! Ahhhh, the missing piece!

A great idea is only a thought until it is clearly articulated, processed – then – communicated through every level of the organization. Only when the expectations are clearly understood, and the process is clear, can they be, well, expected.

Companies can spend a lot of money trying to do the right thing but fail with ineffective execution. Why does that happen?

Try this on: Often, the top leadership team works on a program for months or even years. Researching, tweaking, outlining, and so on. When they are ready to pull the trigger, they don’t consider that the people that will be tasked to implement missed all of that process. All of that conversation. All of that rationalization. All of the examples of what will and will not work. They send out a memo – maybe add one presentation by the leader or a minimal training effort, and expect it should be clear.

This story with Joe worked out well. He gained clarification by approaching his manager at one of those “cold” moments and asked one question in a kind and caring tone. ” A penny for your thoughts?”. That was the start of the clarity needed throughout the company to drive service levels.

You might wonder why it took Joe to start the communication process. The simple answer is that no one else launched the inquiry, so Joe took action. Yes, in an ideal world, it would begin at the first notice of concern. The manager was not strong enough to take action and help Joe.   We can’t always choose our supervisors.

Don’t get wrapped around what should happen. It does not matter where you are in an organization. If things are not going well, ask questions. Start with you!

Neither the customer, the company, nor the employee can benefit from great ideas- without the level of communication that drives execution.

So then, to answer the question When employees are not meeting expectations, who should step up and take action? 

You!  Whoever you are at whatever role. 

Joe felt better because he was able to resolve the issue, and his manager treated him better. His manager was happy because Joe’s Team rocked it! I assume the executive Team was delighted, and surely, the client as well! Now if I could only get hired to work with Joe’s manager (smile).

Employers help your managers lead.  Your employees deserve great leaders and your company will surely benefit.  Managers become leaders.  You can’t help your employees without communicating.

For my free resources, including “Four Questions that Will Provide ROOT CAUSE Clarity when Assessing Problem Employees.” go to

Parone Group is a consulting firm enhancing organizational effectiveness.  We help you and your team identify sound processes, so that every person, at every level of your organization thrives.

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