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'Why Don't My Employees Do What I Ask?'

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What’s wrong with my employees? Why don’t they do what I ask of them? It’s the same thing every day.  I say one thing, they do another. It seems as if I am the only person who knows what to do around here.  

Does any of this sound familiar? Have you said these words, or a variation of these words, from time to time? If so, you’re not alone. Getting people to follow policy or a new marketing strategy sometimes feels as if you are trying to move the earth off its axis.  

People in high levels of authority are well-aware of the need to get things done. Each member of their team plays an integral part in the success or failure of the organization. In your shop, you are the authority: you are the shop owner. You know that the responsibility of attaining success directly rests on your shoulders. This is a weight you carry around with you each day. 

Eventually, if your efforts don't attain the results you need to run a successful business, you begin to look around to find out what’s causing the problem. And the tendency is to assign blame. All too often, you find that your employees are not all pulling in the same direction. And you determine that this is the cause of your problems. The following may not sit well with you, but if most of your employees are not engaged and not performing up to your expectations, it’s probably not their fault. You need to take a long hard look in the mirror. The fault may lie with management, and that means you. 

Assigning blame is destructive. It keeps our focus directed in the wrong areas. This is not to say we can never have a bad employee. But, if we focus on seeking blame, we are directing our attention from where our focus should be; and that’s accepting the responsibility to correct what’s happening and make the necessary changes. 

In order to really get things done and achieve personal success and the personal success of your employees, it takes the cooperation of each team member. Getting people to work as a unified team involves commitment, not compliance. Compliance is demanding people to do something. And they will—but only up to a certain point and only for a certain period of time. What you need from your employees is not compliance; you need commitment. 

Surveys have shown that the majority of employees in most businesses are not engaged at work and the primary reason is that most employees don’t know the overall goals and vision of the company. And they also don’t know what’s expected of them. Employees are largely left to react to their situations during the day; never really having a clear understanding of how their role contributes to their success and the success of the company. 

A business team is no different than a sports team. Every member needs to know the objective and goals. Imagine the coach of a football team who does not let the quarterback—or the other players— know what the play is? He simply tells the players to get out on the field and perform. After all, the players are well-trained, highly capable and all professionals. Shouldn’t they know what to do to win?  And when they fail to win, the coach ends up blaming the players. Is this a ridiculous analogy? It may be, but this is what happens every day in shops across the country.  

Your best employees don’t want to fail. They don’t intentionally ignore what you want from them. It’s more likely that they really may not know what you expect from them. Employees need to know exactly what is expected of them and they need to be motivated and inspired to perform their best. However, the only way your employees can perform at their best is for each of them to know what the company goals are. In other words, what is our overall objective and how we, as a team, are going to achieve it.  

Each employee also needs to know that when the business wins, they do, too. When employees realize that achieving the company goals is also aligned with achieving their personal goals, you have commitment. And commitment equates to success. 

Communicate the goals of the company often. Communicate what success looks like and how we are going to attain it. Create a workplace where the goals of the individual are aligned with the goals of the company. If things get off track, just look in the mirror. If you want to blame someone, you might want to start with yourself.  

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