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Help, I need somebody!

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“Help, I need somebody!”  

There are lots of books about holding people accountable, oftentimes these books focus on the clarity of the responsibilities, measurement, or structuring conversations that cut through the excuses. Yes, these are all important things to focus on. What I don’t like about many of these books is that accountability is more often a byproduct of great teamwork. 
 
*No one who is committed wants to let their teammates down.* 
 
So, let’s assume that you work with Smart and Happy people who are committed… but for some reason, they are struggling in their job. What should you do to help them? Here are a few things I’ve learned in my career that have helped me bridge the gaps in my teams: 

  1. I always try to put myself in the other person’s shoes. What is going on for them, what is their workload, what is the work that needs to get done and how does it fit with their skill set?  
  1. Is the issue a repeating problem or a pattern or is it a one off?  
  • If it’s a repeating pattern then is the issue systemic, a problem with the way the company is organized, or is it a deficiency in that person’s abilities?  
  • If it’s one-off, is there something going on in the person’s life that we all need to take into consideration? Are they sick, going through a personally hard time, etc.? 
  1. Are they open to having a discussion with me about the concern or do I need to involve someone else (maybe someone in leadership) to address the concern?  

 
I seek first to understand before I make any judgments. It’s easy to blame people and it’s easy to assign reasons for why they are not meeting expectations, but that is laziness and shows a lack of respect. 
 
My mom always used to say that if you respect someone, you’re actively examining your beliefs about that person and re-looking your underlying assumptions.  
 
Once I’ve taken the time to understand, then I take a hard look in the mirror and ask myself am I contributing to or causing the problem?  
 
Then teamwork should kick in… What can I do to help? Does this person need encouragement? Do they need additional resources? Do they have a personal issue that needs attention? Or in very few cases does this person need a corrective talk? 
 
If it’s something that is just really difficult for someone (we all have stuff we suck at (responding to email for me)) then how can we change the system to help that person be more successful? Anytime someone on your team is not performing or meeting expectations… it’s almost never an individual problem; it’s a way of working, a way of resourcing, or a way of supporting someone’s problem.  
 
Don’t be quick to anger, quick to blame, or worse yet- stand around and watch someone fail. We win together and we lose together. 
 
Be the kind of co-worker that makes everyone around you better. It’s why we have Kudos in the desk of Brad, our better selves should be expressed in the quality of our teamwork.  
 
 
Let’s go be great! 
Brad