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Are you struggling to get the results you want from your employees? If so, it’s likely that there there are one or more factors at play preventing them from delivering on their promises. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the top five reasons employees aren’t meeting expectations and what you can do to fix them.


Rather than letting your frustration lead you to blame Gen Z for being lazy and worthless, it’s far more productive to look deeper by breaking down the common reasons for underperformance.


Identifying the reasons can put you back in the driver’s seat and back on the road to a better future for you, your company, and your employees.

Let’s now take a look at what I believe are the 10 top reasons for employees not meeting expectations:


1. Wrong Person

The right people for your company are people who share your company’s values. They just seem to fit in your company culture. They thrive in your work environment, you like being around them.


The opposite “right” person is not “bad” person. Please don’t make this mistake. The opposite is “wrong” person. Wrong for your team.


No matter what skill they bring, if they don’t fit…they don’t fit. In this case, it’s best to be honest. Heck, help them find a position on another team if you can. But do not let a wrong person be an anchor holding your team back.


2. Wrong Position

I’ve made this mistake many times in my career. I’ve taken great people…the right people and put them in positions where they could not thrive. The raw ability to do a job does not mean that the person will thrive in a position. For instance, try asking yourself…


Does the position in question require:

  • Patience
  • Consistency
  • Accuracy
  • Speed
  • Decisive Action
  • Boldness
  • A lot of people interaction
  • Working in a cubicle all day with zero people interaction


As you can see, different people will better fit in different situations. This is where studying and implementing personality styles through DISC became a game-changer for me and my organization.


3. Not Hungry

You can often have someone who seems to be the right person for the company and in the right position for them, but they just appear to not be hungry to succeed. While I believe those people are out there, I also believe that many times an apparent lack of hunger is symptomatic of a different problem. If they truly lack hunger…drive… you may not be able to help them… but keep reading.


4. Not Connected with Your Vision

When people are connected to your vision, when they feel the work they are doing actually matters, and they can see a future for themselves in your organization, the effort and creativity to get the results needed will astound you. This is why leaders need to constantly communicate the “why” of what the company is trying to accomplish and the importance of what every single individual contributes. 


One day my vice president made a general announcement to the office staff asking all “essential” employees to meet him on a Saturday morning to work on a project. Those who felt they were essential showed up. Shouldn’t we only have essential employees anyways? And shouldn’t they all feel essential?


5. Not Trained

In my early days, I would hire whoever I could find, tell them what to do, and then throw them to the sharks. They were left to sink or swim. Needless to say, most did not succeed. It takes time, preparation, and intentionality to train people. Training fast is great. Training thoroughly is better. Training thoroughly and quickly is the best. 


So much training is really just some know-it-all doing all the talking and expecting people to get it and own it after they have been told once.


Training involves much more than giving information. People need to see how things get done. They need to see how it looks when it’s done right. They need to know what to do when things go wrong. And they typically need some oversight training wheels on for a while until they build their competence and confidence. Isn’t this how we teach our children to drive?


Good training includes classroom teaching, demonstration, hands-on in a safe environment, checklists, guides, coaching, making mistakes, and feedback loops to help people get better.


6. No Picture of What a Job Well-Done Looks Like

If your employee’s picture of what a great job looks like does not align with yours, how in the world will you ever he or she ever succeed? Too many times people are doing what they believe is a great job…in their own understanding. One good way to get over this hump is to explain in past-tense terms what a great job is, and then have them explain it back to you. 

Then let them do the work. Inspect the work, and give them feedback. 


We use KRA’s…Key Result Areas in my company rather than job descriptions to spell this all out.


7. No Hash Marks to Measure Progress 

Think about players on the football field. They can look up at the scoreboard to see the score and other game stats. Football is a game of quarters, possessions, and downs. Players play a down at a time. It is said that football is a game of inches. Inches literally make the difference in games and championships. At any time, players can look at the hash marks and sticks on the sidelines to see just how far they need to move the ball on the next play…or even the current play in action.


Now, let’s translate this into your business. What are the “inches” of progress your people have to make so you all can succeed? Is it leads generated, calls made, quotes given, sales contracted? Place numbers in your company right in view of the people who need to see them the most so they can know whether they are winning or losing and what they need to get done today.


Wallbaords are great for this.


8. No Coaching or Accountability

The longer you allow a process at your company to not be followed or the longer you ignore unacceptable results, the harder they will be to correct. 


Coaching and accountability, like parenting, take effort. It’s not always fun, but it is always necessary. 


Consider a right person doing the right job who really believes in your company’s vision. You showed them what and how to do the job and they demonstrated that they can do it. You let them loose. You think they’ve got it. But somewhere along the way something was missed, some small detail. Or they got a little lazy with the process with huge implications. Then these same missed or dropped details get repeated time and time again and become a habit. We all know that bad habits are hard to break. 


This is even worse when your employee’s error was in favor of an easier way of doing things. Easier for them…not necessarily better. Freedoms enjoyed are not given up without a fight.


Freedoms enjoyed are not given up without a fight.

Address violated expectations quickly and frequently. A great book resource for improving your people skills regarding accountability is Crucial Accountability. I highly recommend you read this.


9. Burned Out or Disillusioned 

Most issues with employees underperforming can be repaired, especially if caught in time. However, sometimes situations are ignored for too long and things fester. Just like mold grows in the dark. Right people can become disillusioned and even burn out when leaders fail to correct circumstances and environments. I’ve allowed this to happen before, and it just feels terrible. We can and should try to save the right people, but sometimes we cannot. In those cases, all we can do is learn and improve.


10. Unethical Leadership

I won’t spend much time on this here, because I have covered unethical leadership in other articles before. However, it deserves mention. People leave companies because of the boss more than any other reason. My hiring manager hears this all the time from job applicants. People do not want to work for an unethical manager. You can have the best company vision and everything else in place… and one bad manager can run people off.


You know, when a team keeps losing…it’s not the players who are fired…it’s the coach.


You know, when a team keeps losing…it’s not the players who are fired…it’s the coach.

Guard the ethics at every level of your company… starting from the top.


In Conclusion

In almost all of the examples above, the failure lies with leadership and management…not the employee. As owners, leaders, and managers, we must take responsibility. Many times that means owning situations we created or allowed to come into being in days past. Only when we own it can we change it. Hopefully, we are growing and becoming better every day.


I’d love to hear our thoughts on this subject.