Solution Saturday: Peer Constantly Falls Short
I am struggling with a peer (manager) who is consistently falling short in her job. Our director only fixes the short falls but doesn’t address the behaviors.
We are in succession planning. I will be the next director, in about six months. Do you have any articles that may be of help on how to best address these situations?
Dear Future Director,
Thank you for bringing this topic to the conversation. I haven’t written about it before this. The suggestions that follow are offered with your future leadership in mind.
First of all, congratulations for looking beyond short-falls to behaviors. It’s easy to miss this.
Second, if this person is as bad as you suggest, the rest of the team will be thrilled if someone deals with this situation.
When peers constantly fall short:
- Focus on behaviors within your control. That means your behaviors, first. Leaders find that when they change, the people around them change. (I’m pretty sure that’s the spirit behind your question.)
- Beware of gossip. You undermine the future of your leadership when you complain about others to your peers.
- Learn what leading without authority looks like. When you become the director, authority will be a small part of your success. Your team may resent any indication that you’re pulling rank.
- Get clear on your aspirations for yourself. Frustration tells you what you don’t want, but what do you want?
- How do you want to show up in this type of situation?
- Who do you want to be?
- How would you like to be perceived?
- Build relationships that enable discussions about poor performance without creating lasting resentment.
- Maintain personal enthusiasm. Frustration with something you can’t change drains you.
- Focus energy on success and strength. Lousy leaders fall into problem-centric leadership and never climb out. Increase affirmations, celebrations, and honor for everything good in all your peers.
- Peers who try but fall short may need training, or they may be in over their heads. Is it worth the effort to seek improvement?
- Check your motivation. Do you want what’s best for them? Leaders seek the best interests of individuals and organizations. (this is important to #5.)
- Get out of the past. How might you help your peer find his/her best future?
Stay humble. We grow arrogant when we feel better than others.
One challenge of working on teams is weak links, but keep in mind that you are a weak link in some areas. (Unless you’re good at everything?)
What warning might you offer Future Leader?
What suggestions do you have for Future Leader?
***I relax my 300 word limit on Solution Saturdays.
This is powerful. I’m teaching a lesson this morning on humility at my Mens bible study group. Thanks for sharing this.
Thanks Scot. Humility is easier to teach than live. 🙂
I wonder what “falling short” means. It might be that the individual isn’t meeting expectations because they are unclear. If they are clear, it could be that there are specific aspects of the role that are not suited for this individual. It could mean a bit of a role redesign as well.
Thanks Anil. Your insights are important and powerful for this conversation. Our ability to work hard but lack clarity about expectations is surprising. Plus, leaders might feel they have been clear when they are actually obscure.
Dan two thoughts for the new boss about to inherit someone else’s employee with issues:
1. Go out to Dinner alone with the person right after you get promoted. In a couple hour dinner, with wine, the new boss can lay out their approach and agenda and sense if this employee will ever move onto the team or not.
2. Within a month or so of dinner, if things are working great, that is a win. If not fire the employee. The rest of the team will appreciate and respect the new boss for fixing an overdue issue.
Brad James, author The Business Zoo
Thanks Brad. I enjoy how you don’t mince words. Your approach aligns with a relational approach to leadership.
If this person was to begin taking action before they became Director, what would you suggest?
Dan I have a contrast with you. We can’t increase or decrease learning curve of anyone.
It’s simple DESIRE to excel.
2. When question comes to competence offcourse it can be developed with conscious efforts s but there must not be a gap of actual vs desirable. Or fake interst of learning or sometimes they show momentary change in behaviour later remain same.
3. After getting off from assigned task or with your help he/she would be free from current problem and 100 percent sure he would be part of credit taking or sharing habit which is a stumble block for him and question on organisation behaviour and development. Jerks are everywhere. Falling short from vision and mission is genetic defect and such guys smart enough in such situations and politics is big weapon for them or putting others in mess, they are masters. Peer coaching is a tough task and for such set behaviours in organisation is responsible for DNA defect.
May true in few cases. Let leadership understand such guys better whether they want to change themselves or change permanently or learnability is available in them or not.
After becoming competent chances are there he or she may be useful for department but chances are less because during appraisal they may share different stories.
But like snake has tendency, you understand better what I want to tell you.
Peers are peers , current environment is challenging.
So can be or absolutely can’t
Such a great response – as we’ve all come to expect. It’s this quote from #3 that caught my attention: “Learn what leading without authority looks like.” As you go on to say, any authority existing will (and should) be mostly irrelevant. Leading will not happen because of authority – but because of what one does, in a leadership position or not!!!
What do all effective leaders do now or later when the authority is added? Consider carefully the other items on the list of suggestions!!!
I generally agree with your suggestions for handling this problematic situation. As a concerned peer -whether or not I anticipated being promoted- I have as a colleague pulled performance-deficient peers aside and advised them, in the interest of their organizational future, to seek out feedback from our managers and have sometimes given them feedback of my own as to how they could better meet organizational expectations and excel at their jobs. This is all based on relationships of course and would not be accepted in all cultures or by all individuals. “Leading without authority” is tricky, but can ultimately be very satisfying. I smiled at the suggestion about more training. As a training administrator I was often dismayed at how often “more training” was the default remedy for many performance issues, when the real problem was elsewhere. I resort to the “if his life depended on it” standard. Thanks for another thought-provoking post.