What to do if a subordinate does not do what is needed

This article grew out of a survey I conducted at my channel. Here I want to sort out the answers.

Please select your option before reading further. Ready? Then let’s go.

Delicately point out mistakes, say what is right.

And how did it happen that your employee has been working on a task for some time and does not see an error, and you, just passing by, immediately noticed? Your qualifications as a specialist are higher, but then why didn’t you show, didn’t teach? Decided to let him learn in combat. Ok, that’s possible. But then why are you climbing? Let’s say this is an urgent, important task, but then why did you give it to an inexperienced employee. When you give someone a task, you need to understand in advance why you are doing it: do you want the task to be solved or for the employee to acquire knowledge/skills that will allow him to solve such tasks in the future. This choice determines your future relationship with him: you are a leader and a professional subordinate, or you are a mentor and trainee.

If you need a result, and not a learning process, then the algorithm of actions in general terms is as follows: you evaluate the qualifications of the employee, the risk of task failure, the cost of failure, the urgency and importance of the task, find the optimal balance between these parameters, decide what exactly you are ready to delegate, you formulate the task, you offer the employee to take responsibility.

In the case of communication with not yet a professional employee, but with an intern, the very concept of delegation of authority is not applicable, although you can use all the elements of a full-fledged work: planning meetings, tasks, control points, reports – everything is “like in adults”, with the only difference that this is all only an entourage for the learning process, and the trainee is not responsible for the result of the tasks he does. In most cases, he does not know at all whether the task he has been assigned can be completed successfully. A good intern wants to learn, wants to stop being an intern, and therefore takes on any job that is offered to him, unlike a professional who clearly separates what he is ready to answer for and what he is not ready to be responsible for.

If you try to correct the actions of an employee in the process of work to the intended point of control, you actually take responsibility for the result from him, putting him in the position of a student. From now on, he is not responsible for the result, but for the accuracy of following your instructions. You are responsible for achieving the result.

Do nothing, allow a mistake to be made.

Most of those who participated in the survey understood that this was the best option. Indeed, the intermediate result of work, especially in the wrong hands, can often seem strange. But this does not mean that it is wrong, it is worth waiting for the intended control point, when the employee prepares and tells about the results achieved. They may object to me, they say, but if the price of a mistake is high and I cannot allow a chance of failure, what should I do? Then do not give such a big task, think in advance, split the task into subtasks, the error in which will not be so high, and do not interfere with the person’s work.

Yes, of course, there are exceptions, if you notice that it smells like burning and a fire may start, then you can forget everything that I wrote about above, unceremoniously get in, and start fixing everything urgently. Most importantly, do not forget that if force majeure happens regularly, then this is no longer force majeure, it is a style of work.

Give advice as best as you would yourself.

Strictly speaking, giving advice is not provided for in the relationship “leader and subordinate.” Only one colleague can give advice to another colleague. In general, a certain wise thought expressed by one person to another can be considered advice only if 3 conditions are met:

  1. He who is gifted with wisdom may not listen to this wisdom.

  2. Even if the wisdom has already been expressed and listened to, the gifted person has every right not to take advice.

  3. Both the recipient and the donor are well aware of points 1 and 2 and fully agree with them.

In Russian culture, unfortunately, it is not customary to ask permission to give advice, and gifts, as a rule, cannot be refused, especially if the donor is higher in status. If you are the boss, then no one will most likely stop you from saying what you want to say, even if you distract and interfere. But if point 1 can still be skipped, then points 2 and 3 are required in any case. Therefore, before giving advice, make sure that the employee understands that now you are talking to him not as a boss, but as a colleague who has already done a similar task before. Your relationship with the employee should be such that the employee understands what you are saying, you can ignore it, and you will not be offended or upset, but simply accept his decision. In any case, I would not, without an explicit request, give advice to yesterday’s interns and employees who are doing new or difficult tasks for themselves, so as not to provoke an implicit shirking of responsibility. If you are not sure that the employee will cope, if you want to reduce the risks for yourself and the uncertainty for him, decompose, make the task easier.

Stop the work of an employee and finish the task yourself.

As strange as it may seem, this is also a valid option. You assessed the qualifications of an employee, assessed the cost of a mistake, assessed the risks of failure and assigned a task to an employee, but you made a mistake in the calculations, you gave the wrong task to the wrong employee. Price your the error is too big not to intervene. You stop an employee, state a fact his mistakes, apologize for making him waste time, relieve him of responsibility for achieving the result, and take emergency measures, which may include personal involvement in eliminating the error. After extinguishing the fire, you will be able to deal with systemic personnel issues: training an employee or changing his position / role in the company, if training is inappropriate.

Connect another more experienced employee to help.

By doing so, you put the subordinate in a very awkward situation. And if he does not think that he needs help, and if he does not agree with what the other employee suggests, what should he do? Who is now generally responsible for the result: he, you or another employee? You can offer help, yes. But only the employee who is responsible for the task can decide who to connect and who not.

Sit side by side, do the task together.

The problem with this option is not only that you blur the employee’s area of ​​responsibility, not only that you put him in the position of a student (which in itself, a person who considers himself a professional, can be perceived as an insult), but that that you are acting reactively. You were going somewhere, doing something, had some plans, and suddenly you left everything and started studying. If you don’t control your own time, how can you control someone else’s. A reasonable question arises: how aware are you of your responsibility as a manager?

My telegram channel Toxic manager

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