More than anything, we in HR want to see our people succeed. We were probably involved when they were hired, and we are certainly involved in their retention. Sometimes we encounter employees when they feel like they’re not going anywhere. They want to know why they’re not being promoted or aren’t getting the raise they feel they deserve.
These are certainly difficult conversations to have with employees, but sometimes we’ve got to have them. We have to do it because we care about these people and want them to know what’s holding them back.
This infographic by Jim F. Kukral outlines many common problems that are keeping people from being as successful as they want to be.
1. Laziness. It’s not easy to tell people you’ve noticed they’re being lazy, but sometimes you do wonder how motivated they’re feeling. Do your people do the bare minimum their job requires or are they going above? Do they help out teammates when needed? Do they try to really do their jobs in new and creative ways? Sometimes you don’t have to flat-out say they’re lazy. Ask them these questions and see if it makes them start thinking about it.
2. Entitlement. Some people feel entitled to getting raises or being promoted just for being there. Unfortunately for them, that’s not what it works. Maybe the best way to approach entitlement of employees is to explain the process your company uses to promote or give raises. Frankly, their performance speaks for itself. Make sure they know they don’t get something for nothing (or too little).
3. Fear. Often fear looks like the bare minimum. When employees are afraid to try new things or offer fresh ideas, they look complacent. When they’re afraid of change or trying something different, you can’t improve. At best you can remain the same. Tell your people you want to see them stretch a little and take chances. Yes, sometimes it’s scary to fail, but many times, it’s the best way to learn and grow.
4. Negativity. Nothing brings down a workplace as much as negativity. We’re all working hard to do great things. When someone is negative, it’s hard to be excited about the things you’re doing as a team. Then it brings everyone else down. Negativity breeds more negativity, and it’s hard to be motivated and inspired when we’re focusing on the worst things. When people are being negative, ask them what’s going well. Ask them what they like about the job and your company. Try to refocus the conversation on the positives and let them know how seeing the positive in the job can change the way they’re working. And people WILL notice!
5. Stop thinking. Analyzing things isn’t bad, but doing it so much that you’re never getting anything done can be. Of course we need to think it through, and then act. If thinking over repercussion is standing in your people’s way, maybe it’s because they don’t feel safe at your company. Do employees know that it’s okay to try something new and innovative even if it doesn’t go perfectly? If not, you might need to let them know that the company expects some failures because they know that with the failures will come successes. We can’t achieve anything truly great unless we’re taking risks.
6. No goals. If people really want to move up or go somewhere, they should be setting goals to keep themselves from becoming stagnant in their positions. Ask employees what kinds of goals they’ve set for themselves. If they haven’t, take some time and help them come up with some goals. You can ask thought-provoking questions about their long-term career goals that can help them set short-term goals.
7. “They.” If your people think of the management or leaders at your company as a group of people who are keeping them down, that’s a problem. Ask employees what they see keeping them from being where they want to be. Do they refer to the management as “they” and do they blame them for where they are? It’s important your people understand their success lies in their own hands (and heads) much more than in anyone else’s.
8. “X” factor. People who believe that their lack of “X” factor is holding them back are just holding themselves back. Hard work does matter. Loyalty and stepping up when it really matters is more important than some elusive “X” factor. This is a simple excuse that sounds like an excuse. Push excuses aside and try to get to the heart of the problem.
9. Waste time. Some people do the bare minimum to get by and don’t mind doing whatever else just to pass the time. They’re distracted by everything—shooting the breeze with coworkers, personal calls or texting, a storm rolling in. They’ve always got something else that’s more important than doing work. We do notice, and employees should know that. Unless this gets turned around, this type of person won’t be climbing any ladders.
10. Social media. One of the worst distractions for employees is social media. In fact, employees spent 20 hours online and 5 hours surfing non work-related sites every week. As much as it seems like everyone’s doing it, employees need to refrain if they want to be seen as a serious employee who wants to be successful. Some companies even monitor this stuff. If you notice a problem, let employees know. They may be able to control themselves more if they know you could be watching.
11. Think small. People who see the “big picture” or are more visionary with not only their own career goals, but with the entire company’s mission. When people are more concerned with what’s happening tomorrow than what could happen in five years, you’ll have smaller goals and smaller growth. Encourage people to start looking farther into the future to see how they can have an impact on greater things.
12. Don’t want it. This one is definitely harder to detect. People will tell you they want you they want success but won’t do what’s necessary to be successful. It’s pretty cut and dry. Be sure to tell them what you want to see and which behaviors and actions get promoted at your company. If they don’t do it, they simply don’t want it.
13. Don’t believe. People have to believe great things are possible or it will never happen. Do your people believe in the vision leaders have set for your company? Do they really buy-in? If not, they may come in every day, do their job, then go home, but they’ll not reach the heights they could have if they had only believed in it. And themselves. Here’s where you can inspire them. When they don’t believe, make it a priority to instill belief in your people.
Helping people realize they’re exhibiting some of these behaviors can help them turn it around. Sometimes it’s hard to tell people you see them, but often people aren’t even aware it’s happening to them. Have those hard conversations. Your people, and your company, are definitely worth it!