Why Leaders and Managers Don’t Respond To Performance Issues

If you are in any type of leadership or management role, the chances are that sooner or later you will have to deal with some sort of performance issue. These performance issues can show up in a whole host of different ways.

One of the most common is the employee who is not performing to the required standards.

Alternatively it could be a division that is not delivering targets.

It could be a savings plan that is not resulting in any change in spending.

It might even be tensions between members of the senior management team.

The trouble is that when it comes to performance issues many leaders and managers think they can sweep it under the carpet or avoid and it will somehow magically disappear. Yet the reality is that things tend to get worse when not dealt with.

There are several reasons why managers don’t deal with performance issues in my experience:

  1. They don’t want to be unpopular. In other words, their popularity is more important than results.
  2. They want an easy life. Don’t we all at some level but if you have chosen to step up to the plate as a leader or manager you have to be willing to deal with the difficult stuff.
  3. They don’t know how. Sometimes people get promoted into senior roles because they personally are good at doing things. They may even have resisted taking the training they need to succeed at more senior levels.
  4. They lack courage. No one said leading or managing is easy. We all know that being courageous requires you to take some risk.
  5. They worry about the backlash. I would never suggest that people just do what they like if they have the seniority to do so. At the same time you have to accept that whatever you do there are always going to be people who disagree. It does not mean they are right and you are wrong. They just have a different point of view.

The trouble is that when performance issues remain unresolved, there are potential consequences like:

People don’t respect you or you lose hard earned respect.

People stop bothering because they know you will let them off the hook.

Service quality or service provision drops, leading to more complaints and lost business and, in the worst case scenario, the business failing.

Those to whom you report start to have doubt in you and whether you are really up to the task, which can lead to you losing your job.

The Bottom Line: No one likes to have to deal with the difficult stuff or confront the areas of problem. At the end of the day the willingness to do so is what sets apart the best from the rest.

Duncan Brodie of Goals and Achievements helps professional people to become highly effective managers. He invites you to sign up for his free e-course, Management Mastery, at www.goalsandachievements.co.uk.

About the Author Duncan Brodie

Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 8,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.

Leave a Comment:

Frank Gebhardt says 7 February 2012

Duncan, great post! I have also come across these issues. And it is sometimes surprising what people do or actually don’t do. Often a little bit of help like a gentle push to get them started or over a perceived roadblock is all what is required.

Thanks for posting!

Joan Henshaw says 8 February 2012

Great post Duncan. Another reason why leaders and managers don’t deal with performance issues is because they’re not sure how to work out whether there actually IS a performance issue.

The question they have is; ‘is this a performance issue, or just a difference in working style/ approach etc’. In short they know there is a problem (usually because they are tearing their hair out) but they’re not sure if it’s a performance problem

The answer I give is that it’s about identifying the (negative) business consequences. In short, if there is a negative business consequence then there is a performance problem. If there isn’t, it’s probably just a ‘style’ issue. I’ve written more on this in my blog ‘Performance Management: Is it them, or is it me?’ https://managing-employee-performance.com/performance-management-%e2%80%93-is-it-them-or-is-it-me/

Alex Dail says 10 February 2012

I appreciate the way you pointed out that when we neglect doing what is uncomfortable things can really get uncomfortable. In my experience, making friends by not addressing issues that need addressing really only generates superficial friendships. Few people will remain loyal to a person nota committed to excellence; those that seem to be friends are just engaging in a mutual exploitation relationship and will only hold to it as long as they benefit.

Add Your Reply