One of the key requirements as a leader is to make judgment calls and to be decisive in your decision making. We’ve all had bosses who wouldn’t make a decision or that sat on decisions so long that the situation became worse. While being decisive in your decision making as a leader is beneficial, we also have to balance that out so that we don’t too quickly rush to judgment when there’s more information.
This is particularly true with employees. You certainly should make the hard calls and you don’t want the wrong people on the proverbial bus. However, you also want to make sure that your employees have what they need to be successful. Sometimes this requires a leader to not rush to judgment, but to make sure they understand the reasons an employee may not be performing up to standard.
This story from Michael Hardy illustrates this point extremely well:
Early this week I received a report from one my managers that a certain employee was being lazy, not working hard, had a bad attitude and doing certain activities that would, under normal circumstances, be grounds for termination. When the employee came back into work and before delivering the hard news that he was no longer welcome to work for the company, we decided to dig in a little deeper to find out why he was acting this way. As it turns out, the boy hadn’t eaten in 2 days.
You see, he lives with his dad who is dying and their only income is a $500 per month stipend from the government. He was working at our company to try and get extra money to support them. He was working slow because he did not have any energy and felt like he was going to faint. Instead of laying him off, we bought him some food, talked to him about what he wanted to accomplish and where he wanted to go, and spent some more time training him to get him past the initial learning curve. He was beyond grateful and has worked his butt off since.
It was a great lesson for me personally to always be patient and ask questions before acting quickly. You never know what people are going through.
What a great reminder to be sure you have all the information you need. Understanding why an employee isn’t performing and helping them overcome it is often much cheaper than trying to recruit, hire, and train their replacement.