Why are my employees not getting their responsibilities completed?

In a recent conversation, with a business owner, the frustration of working with their employees has hit an all-time high. Their desperation was clear in the tone and volume of the discussion.

“I just don’t get it!!! We work hard to create job descriptions with responsibilities and requirements of what needs to get done. But we still run into the same situation, time after time. They just don’t deliver when I expect it to be delivered.”

Did you catch that? Right at the end, there is a clue for the reason on why the relationship was so strained with their employees.

Let me share another personal experience I have had with my kids. My wife and I created a chore list for our kids as they were growing. We did this to help teach responsibility and hope to create a good work ethic. We make them purchase their own “fun” items when it is something they want that is outside of birthdays and other holidays. One of the chores was for them to keep their room clean. And as happens in virtually every home… the communication wasn’t exactly clear. You see, the chore to keep their room clean was something we expected to have cleaned and then kept that way. We wanted to room to stay relatively clean on a daily bases. However, our expectations were not the same as what our kids decided the expectations should be for keeping their room clean. You see, if they cleaned their room once a month, they had fulfilled their responsibilities. We obviously, didn’t agree with that conclusions.

The lesson – Responsibility and Expectations are two separate things.

We often perceive that everyone else is going to be just like us. They will think like us. They have the same background and thus when given a responsibility, will respond with the same expectations on how to complete that responsibility. NOTHING could be further from the truth. But we just assume and don’t ask and the end result is frustration, and strained relationships with all those you come in contact.

Now that we can see the problem, the questions is how do we solve or sometimes salvage the relationship once it has become strained.

There are two specific paths through which you may need to walk through. The first path is proactively preventing the expectations from being misunderstood in the first place and then next is salvaging the situation once something has been misunderstood.

Fixing your misunderstandings:

First, you need to listen. Process for listen starts with a review of the responsibilities, to ensure that they are clearly understood. Next, ask how they think the responsibility needs to complete? When will it be completed? What they plan to do in order to accomplish the responsibility?

Second, be responsible and take the initiative to clearly lay out your own expectations. It is a matter of having another understand the way in which the responsibility needs to be completed. Often this process will clear up the situation and then save a valuable resource in your personnel. People are the most valuable asset with any business and most often worth the extra time to invest in them.

Setting clear expectation:

I have my wife to thank for this next piece. She has often, not just given us the ability to set the expectations with our children but has also been a great help in setting up the relationship with business partners.

Most owners will create job descriptions and hope that the job description will suffice for setting up the expectations for the employee. They then get frustrated when the employee doesn’t do the job in the manner the owner expected.

Simple trick:

When creating your job descriptions. Instead of using a canned description. Take some time to write down what you do every day or have your employees spend a week writing down what it is they do. This will do two things.

  1. Give you a job description for future reference.
  2. Allow you to evaluate your employees with a new perspective.

It is always easier to set out job descriptions with clear expectations up front rather than dealing with the frustration that happens when this isn’t completed. It will save time, money and frustration.