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Blake Beattie
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Leadership Essentials Part I  02.10.2007

You have been promoted to manage and lead your team. One staff member has been consistently underperforming and sees no reason to change. As a member of a strong union, he threatens to go to them if you try and force him to change.

One of your staff has been a brilliant worker for you. She has both the knowledge and the skills to do a great job. Why then is she now underperforming?

Some staff are both cynical and unproductive, and team morale can be affected because of it. What do you do?

There are many good managers in Australia, but there are unfortunately too few good leaders. In a study by Monash University Australia was ranked only 16th out of 22 countries on its ability to lead people! Most leaders in Australia lack:

  • long-term vision
  • emotional intelligence
  • empathy
  • motivating skills to inspire and encourage staff
  • innovation and creativity
  • team-building skills
  • ability to delegate effectively
  • time-management skills
  • self-confidence

As managers and leaders, we must be able to harness the productive capacities of each unique staff member. This is by no means an easy task because intrinsic motivation varies significantly.
Do you really know what motivates your staff to come to work each day?  If you don’t, well...you should!

Here are 3 issues that, as leaders, you may face. Read each heading and before reading on, ask yourself how you would deal with the situation.

Sudden Decrease in Performance

As a leader, you must meet with this person ASAP. Sit down with them and simply ask them why their performance has dropped. Use positive reinforcement to re-affirm and acknowledge the commitment that this person has shown over the time they have worked for you.

Remember, the issue they tell you may not be the real reason.

Always set a follow-up date and time to discuss the progress they have made. Make it a joint effort to get their performance level up again (ie. what can we do to get you performing again).

Won’t change and threatens union involvement

Many leaders have no idea how to handle this one. If this staff member has been working with the organisation a long time, many leaders will let this staff member continue to under-perform, as they are scared of possible repercussions if action is taken. However, this weakens the whole team as high-performing staff will often become de-motivated as a result of a lack of true performance accountability.

So, what’s the answer? Firstly, you must know your legal responsibilities. Stay within the legal framework and document everything!!!

Secondly, try involving and empowering that staff member. This may not work, but in many cases it does and can turn them into great performers! Yes, this does involve stroking their ego but it can do wonders for the team! Make that staff member feel wanted, needed and aware of their contribution to the team!

Thirdly, you must performance-manage each and every staff member. Key Performance Indicators must be agreed upon, and therefore staff become accountable for the results they achieve.

Cynical and Unproductive Staff

In many organisations, this can be a large problem. The work team will never achieve good results, because staff are not held accountable for their work and are too busy spreading negativity. Cynics are like viruses, because they affect everyone in the team, and sometimes turn good workers into cynics as well.

So, how do you deal with the cynics? Awareness has to be the first step. Many cynics are unaware of how their negativity brings the whole team down. Without necessarily singling people out (initially), a team meeting might be a good place to discuss cynicism within the team. You might introduce to the team your definition of what a cynic really is: ‘a passionate person who has been disappointed too many times’.

As part of your performance management system, it is possible to create some Performance Indicators around teamwork and attitude. Think up ways you could measure this, and then implement them as part of staff KPI’s.

Great leaders understand the pulse of their men. They know what motivates each staff member, and subsequently implement a performance management system that is both fair and motivating.

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” ~ Dwight Eisenhower

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Blake was recognised as one of the next generation leaders of Australia last year along with the likes of Justin Herald (Author, speaker and Attitude Gear founder), John Ihlan (Founder of Crazy Johns) & Joe Hockey MP (Federal Minister for Human Services). If you would like assistance in getting the most of your staff, managers and leaders, contact Blake via the bookings page on this website.