Answering Your Leadership Questions Part 2

If you haven’t read it yet, be sure to check out to last week’s article: Part 1 of answering your leadership questions.

First, let’s take a look at my upcoming training schedule in case you want to join me for live workshops, or register for webinar training. This article is posting in January 2020; if read it in the future, these topics will likely roll out in the same order, you’ll just need to go to my website, to check current dates.

On Thursday, January 23, I’m kicking off the Communication and Conflict series. There are three sessions of training for each topic, meaning three communication sessions and three conflict resolution sessions.

If you work in the Butte County area, I hope you will join me on Thursday, January 30, at 8:30 in the morning for my four-hour Managing a Positive Attitude workshop. Every person in the training receives my book as part of the training. This workshop consistently receives excellent feedback for both motivation and learning, so I hope I get to see you!

On Tuesday, February 4, I kick off the Supervisor Series. I strongly encourage supervisors from the same organization to attend together so they can influence the culture at your organizations, with effective leadership skills.

And now, no matter where you live and work, you can join me for my next webinar, Essential Communication Skills, on February 12, from 9-11 a.m. PST. Registration links for all these trainings can be accessed through my website.

Okay, let’s get into your questions. “You recommend getting the right people on the bus, getting the right people in the right seats on the bus, and get the wrong people off the bus”. How can we accomplish this if an organization is VERY against letting people go? I know documentation is important, but what additional advice can you offer?

You are right, documentation is essential for establishing a record of events that has led to the decision to let an employee go. Especially important is data that shows the level of performance maintained by the employee, and any improvement (or lack of improvement) that has occurred as a result of your coaching. I also think it’s useful to be sure you have tried everything you could: if your coaching isn’t achieving the desired result, we can’t be sure it’s not your coaching approach that’s the obstacle. Does your documentation show you have reached out to someone else who might be a better fit as coach for this employee? This could be someone within your organization or an outside employee job skills coach, like the role I fill when I meet with employees from different organizations.

Once these aspects are documented, there should be a transition from coaching to progressive discipline, in which it was clearly communicated to the employee that keeping the job depended on making and sustaining change, effective immediately.

But why do all this work if you aren’t going to have back up from your manager and the appropriate person in HR? Before you start the coaching process, I encourage you to go to your manager and explain what you are dealing with and lay out your plan. Specifically ask if the manager will support you in letting the person go if they don’t rise up to meet job standards. Tell the manager you will provide weekly feedback on your progress with the employee.

If the manager tells you support will not be offered, you have some important things to think about in terms of where you work. Keeping low performers on the team isn’t fair to the high performers – it drags everybody down. I have found, even in organizations reluctant to fire, the issue isn’t usually resistance to firing, the issue is resistance to firing when supervisors don’t document the situation as they should and provide appropriate data as part of that process.

How do I motivate an employee who doesn’t even realize they aren’t meeting the required standards?

My first thought, when reading this questions was this: if you are communicating effectively on a daily basis with each person, and then scheduling weekly individual quick meetings to either praise high performers or coach low performers, then every employee will be clear where they are in terms of job standards. Also, I encourage my clients to use the When You See It – Name It, method of praising and offering constructive coaching. If you know this person isn’t performing to job standards, why haven’t you job shadowed them for a few hours to identify their obstacles, and communicated an improvement plan?

Motivation is mentioned in this questions, as related to the employee not being motivated. However, I might suggest the supervisor hasn’t been motivated to do the right thing for the employee; that is, provide a coaching improvement plan and mentoring the employee until there is a change.

I understand this situation might have been established by another supervisor who did not do their job, and then you inherit the low performer. Once you agreed to take on that leadership role, it became your responsibility to mentor this employee individually.

If you are struggling to motivate employees to higher levels of performance, I encourage you to register for my Motivating Employees and Coaching High Performance webinars. The registration link is on the Webinar Wednesday page of my website, at

Register for Catherine’s Webinar Wednesday Courses Here

When I first got this job, the company was growing and I felt like my feedback was valued. I could see things change because my manager came to me to ask for input and was open to my suggestions and supported the implementation of my initiatives. Now I feel like what I say doesn’t matter. The manager no longer comes to me for feedback because focus has shifted to other people and departments. I like the people I work with, but I no longer feel like the actual work is important or that my expertise is valued. I’m not sure what to do.

First, I want you to know you are not alone in this specific struggle. In fact, you are describing one of the most common mistakes I’ve observed at the management level of organizations: managers who lose site of the fact that mentoring supervisors is one of their most important roles. Instead of planning equal time with all supervisors, their focus can be like a see-saw, first focused on this person, and then focused on that person. Supervisors are expected to keep giving to, and serving, the people on their team. Often times they are doing this without much support and guidance. It doesn’t take long before the supervisors to feel like what they are doing doesn’t really matter, or feel like other supervisors are valued more. They can feel as if their circle of influence has become small, and it is disappointing. And the next thing they know, decisions are made and acted upon that impact their department, and they weren’t included in the discussion.

Now the supervisor is disheartened, not wanting to abandon team, but also not satisfied working there. And so, the casual job search begins, getting online, telling oneself, I’ll just see what out there…

And the supervisor becomes distracted, not putting best efforts into leading team, and the manager is too disengaged to notice.

People want to be where their input, skills, and time are valued. At any point, if they feel like the work doesn’t really matter, or their presence doesn’t really matter, they will probably start looking for another job or accept less than their best work – they will float, just getting by in the job, having no passion.

So, for people who are in this situation, including the person who submitted this question, I ask you if you have met with your manager to honestly tell the person how you are feeling and make the request for weekly meetings and mentoring. Have you asked them to come by your department weekly to see how things are running and offer input?

If you are telling yourself, you shouldn’t have to ask, I would agree with you. But, given the situation, I think you should. Each of us is faced daily with options, including the decision to manage up, down, and sideways. You do this not as a favor to anyone else, but instead as an investment in your own job satisfaction.

Of course, you can find another job and leave. However, it might not be long before you are in the same situation. Why not use this situation to lead yourself and your manager into an improved dynamic?

There is a risk. You might make the request and the manager might agree, and then not keep their word. Hopefully, you will not take this personally, just observe it as a good to know.

Ultimately, I think, it is up to each of us to motivate ourselves, even if we have a fantastic manager. However, whenever we believe our presence isn’t valued by way of input and action taking, that our influence has waned, well then…it’s up to us to decide how best to live up to our potential and surround ourselves with people who are moving forward in life.

I can speak for myself when I tell you I am the type of person who isn’t comfortable plateauing. I don’t like the idea of being paid to take up space in happy mode, without the ability to move things forward in some way.

But that’s just me. I don’t have three kids at home to feed, or a husband or wife reliant on me to provide health benefits.

Life is short and each of us is the only one who can determine the best path for ourselves. As I wrap up this episode, I don’t know if my answers are useful because I haven’t provide black and white answers. I don’t know that I have a one-size-fits-all response for these types of questions.

I do know, though, that I encourage you to take responsibility for your job satisfaction level, and act on the options that are available to you, so you can know you’ve given it your best shot.

Please share your leadership questions by submitting an email through my website and I will continue to work my answers into future podcast episodes and articles.




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