“You’re not responsible for the irresponsibility of others.” Or, “You can only control you, not other people.” Both are great pieces of advice to live by. Except, when you’re in a position of leadership. When you’re in charge, you are responsible for the actions of others. It’s a stark contrast to the peer-to-peer world. Because, your employees aren’t your peers. Sure, they’re good people. But, they aren’t your equal. At least, in terms of business structure. You are the authority. So, when a team member is irresponsible, you’re the one the customer will blame. It’s not fair, but it’s reality.
Why Employees Act Irresponsibly
Everyone does something irresponsible at some point. But, there are people who just can’t seem to get it together long-term. However, these are the exceptions, rather than the rule, a tiny percentage by comparison. You might have even been one of them, but eventually “grew” out of that phase.
In almost every workplace, there is bound to be someone who isn’t pulling their own weight. When you’re an ambitious, hard-working [business owner] who is committed to growing your career and the company, it’s frustrating to work with someone who seems interested in only doing the bare minimum.
People act irresponsibly because they just don’t take their jobs seriously. To them, it’s just a paycheck — a paycheck they can get almost anywhere. Of course, this is very short sighted but it speaks to their mindset and overall attitude. When that personality shows up in your business, you’ll have to deal with it. There is no passing it off.
How to Deal with an Irresponsible Employee
If you’re in this unenviable position, you’ll need to deal with the situation directly. While it’s tempting to pass this off to a subordinate who is above the person in question, letting him or her know their behavior is known at the top is very powerful. (This alone could be enough to correct him or her.) But, it’s best to be clear. Here’s how to deal with an irresponsible employee:
- Put the onus on him or her. Ask him or her how they can improve. Let them be a part of the solution right from the beginning. If they are unwilling or standoffish, that’s a big red flag that probably signals his or her time at the company is coming to an end.
- Persuade but don’t preach. You can (and should) remind him or her of the company’s policies and procedures. But explain why, instead of just hitting him or her with a litany of do’s and don’ts. Enter into a discussion rather than just making proclamations.
- Always lead by example. This is something you should already be doing routinely. Showing leadership not only helps others to reach their goals, it inspires others to succeed in more ways than one. Otherwise, you’re not really leading the company, you’re just a figurehead and people will instinctively understand that fact.
- Follow-up regularly. Obviously, you’ll need to follow-up with him or her. But, think twice about doing so on a set schedule. The element of surprise will motivate him or her to do the right thing. If they don’t, it means you’re dealing with someone who just doesn’t care and isn’t a true asset to the business.
What other suggestions do you have for dealing with an irresponsible employee? Please go ahead and share your thoughts and experiences by commenting!
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