Question of the Month: I have a staff member who struggles to adapt to change. I ask her to do a process, but 3 weeks later the process is not complete and she is still working on it. Her inflexibility means tasks take a long time to finalise. Also, there are often errors that require re-work. Sometimes I sit with her and work through the requirements – but this means that my own big workload comes to a standstill. What should I do?
Answer: A leader’s role has two parts. You should be empathetic in caring for your people and helping them navigate change. But you also need to hold your people accountable for performance. This person is clearly not delivering work that is up to standard.
Your job as the leader is to determine WHY that is the case.
Firstly, is it a MEANS issue (tools, resources, direction)? This seems unlikely, since the problem is mainly about holding on to tasks inappropriately, and you seem to have been giving clear instructions.
If not, is it an ABILITY issue? Probably not, since you appear to have been giving lots of guidance and hands-on coaching/assistance.
Is it then a CAPABILITY issue (is the person intrinsically incapable of ever getting this right, no matter how much you train and coach)? If so, the best and kindest thing is to move the person out of the role in which she is under-performing.
If none of the above, is it a WILLINGNESS issue? If so, the right and fair thing is to issue a reprimand. And if you believe the lack of cooperation is deliberate, the answer is disciplinary action.