I have a report that outgrew a previous position. She demanded a significant pay increase, and I moved her to a completely different position to accomodate her salary requirements. Now we've filled her old position (happy with the replacement!) but she's not meeting expectations at her new position. She's worked for me forever (ok...9 years) but I just can't get her to get the work out the door.

I can't put my finger on EXACTLY what she's doing wrong (can't get her to tell me, and I'm out of the office a LOT lately), but I need her to bill 25 hours a week and she's billing half of that on a good week. She knows HOW to do the work, she's just not DOING it. I suspect that she's distracted by emails, phone calls, overhead...everything but what she's supposed to be doing. When we discuss where she is on a project she typically has done everything very well, but she's working at a pace that's really putting us behind.

I've done feedback, communicated goals, we're moving to coaching next (can you coach someone on how to NOT be distracted?). I'd love some opinions as to creative ways to handle this. She has a history of being a loyal, intelligent, well liked employee so I'd really rather not let her go. I don't want to move her into her old position (and I doubt she'd agree to the pay adjustment). Am I being too strongarmed to ask her to copy me on every email that she sends? write down everything that she does that isn't part of her core job description? I'm not getting much indication on how to improve this, and I've got to fix this problem soon...very small team, and every week that she works at half speed puts that much more work on the rest of us. We're getting behind and customers are starting to complain. I'll be in the office all next week for the first time since early June, so I'll be able to give this some very strong focus. I'm not making much headway doing it remotely.



regas14's picture
Licensee Badge


If you're convinced that the employee knows how to do what the job requires than this is not really a coaching situation yet in my opinion. Just a couple of questions and my logic in asking:

[b]Have you and are you doing one-on-ones consistently?[/b] The reason I ask is because if there was something else getting in the way of her results, one-on-ones would be where you would learn about it.

[b]Are you sure that she knows the who, how and why of the job?[/b] I include all three because depending upon her DISC profile, her motivation and requirements might be different. Your message indicates that she knows how, but just isn't. That is not a coaching situation, it's a feedback/systemic feedback situation. If on the other hand, she doesn't know the who, how and why you can coach all of those things including time management.

[b]How many instances of feedback, in the MT model, would you say you've delivered around this issues?[/b] I notice that you joined the forums in June. It might take a little while for your people to trust the feedback model and take it for what it's worth - an opportunity to realign behavior with the desired results. On the other hand, if they are misunderstanding feedback and think, "I'm in trouble." that may be very demotivating for some employees and she may have one foot out the door already.

I suggest that you start over. Tell this person that you value their contribution to the organization and want to see them produce results that are representative of their talent and skills. Commit to one-on-ones with your entire team. Commit to feedback with your entire team. Focus on the fact you're not doing it with her because she's in trouble, you're doing it with everyone because you value their performance.

Good Luck,


stephenbooth_uk's picture

[quote="jbarefoot"]I have a report that outgrew a previous position. She demanded a significant pay increase, and I moved her to a completely different position to accomodate her salary requirements. Now we've filled her old position (happy with the replacement!) but she's not meeting expectations at her new position. She's worked for me forever (ok...9 years) but I just can't get her to get the work out the door.[/quote]

If you believe that she's being distracted by emails, phone calls &c, have you looked into why? Presumably these were not an issue in her previous job. Have you made sure that she has detached from her previous job? A common problem (and one that is becoming even more common as companies get flatter and jobs become less tightly defined) where someone has been promoted internally is that just as they're starting to get stuck into their new job other employees are still contacting them about their old job. Some of this is inevitable and necessary (no handover is ever perfect and there's always going to be odd things like the location of important but rarely used files or passwords that don't get passed on). Often, however, employees in their old area will contact the newly promoted employee with requests for them to do odd tasks on the grounds that "In the time it takes you to tell someone how to do it you could have done it." or "We're really busy, could you just help us out?" It can be very difficult to refuse and once they have given in once it's harder to refuse next time.

Maybe a couple of questions as to what the emails and phone calls are would be in order?


spiffdeb's picture

My suggestion would be to break down goals/deliverables into more frequent and defined portions and then see if she can meet the "mini deliverables". Implement a more frequent interaction/feedback process.
I would not ask her to copy you on all emails as a remedy for this.

It sounds to me like more detailed structure and communication is in order. This will allow you to either help her get where she needs to be or ascertain if there is some other issue is and address it.

If this is a new role she may be struggling and may need additional guidance. Sometimes people are really good in a role because they have been in it for so long - this move may have shaken her foundation and she is struggling to get up to speed.

But before any of this have you just sat down with her and shared your observation about the billable hours falling off and asked her why this might be?

WillDuke's picture
Training Badge


There is a tone in your comment that leads me to believe your relationship with this direct is strained. So I'd start by trying to get some perspective on the relationship. If the relationship is strained, has that affected your communication? I'd like to know more about what you have told her. Is it clear to her that she's in jeopardy of losing her job? Or have you been "nice" to her instead. It's not "nice" to lose your job and not see it coming.

I don't think you need to know "EXACTLY" what she's doing wrong. She needs to figure it out. Getting copied on all of her email will just make you inefficient too. You know the goals aren't being met. It's her job to figure out how to meet them.

I think your approach to this is going to make or break her success. Getting creative will get you into trouble. Get her into a meeting as soon as you can. Convey your concern clearly and without pulling any punches. Keywords are Honesty and Candor.

Empathize with her. Promotions are tough. She has a whole new set of responsibilities that she's unfamiliar with. Help her to understand that's normal. Maybe she's reverting to her old "familiar" tasks. But she has to handle it; that's what a promotion is all about.

If you're pretty sure she's spending her time inappropriately, work with her so that she comes to that realization on her own. If she needs help getting it under control, suggest she keep a time log. Nothing wakes up an executive like a time log. I have a real simple one in Excel I'll be happy to send you if you don't have one already. PM me if you want to see it.

TomW's picture
Training Badge

When you gave her feedback, what has she committed to do differently next time? Has she actually committed to improving?

I would say getting copies of her emails is extreme and might fall into the "micromanagement" trap. Also, unless you're tapping her phone and installing a surveillance camera, you would only get part of the story. (intentionally taken to an extreme to make a point)

You're not interested in how she gets results, just that she does. If she's not, then the key is to finding which of her behaviors are ineffective. It does not matter what you suspect as much as what you can (or will) observe.

I agree with the others that a detailed time analysis is a good idea. It would tell you what she is spending time on. Once you match that with her priorities, you can see where the faults lie.

ccleveland's picture

I agree with everyone's points...just to add a bit...

Just to stress G.R.'s point... consistent one-on-one (O3s) are the key. It almost sounds as if you're waiting to get back from your travels to meet her. There's no reason why a O3 can't be done over the phone. I've not yet had much of experience with the Manager Tools O3 format, but there are many success stores on the baords. I can tell you from my experience, the more consistent and more frequent (to a point) I've had O3s, the better my relationships.

Also one additional point along the lines of Will's comment. It seems like she's a very direct person (" increase" ... high D?). If so, she would most likely respond to direct feedback. It also sounds like your more amiable (High S?). It might be difficult, but a direct, honest approach could help.

Best wishes. Let us know how it goes!


Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge


I am sorry this is so delayed. But, since I am where I am, would you consider updating the situation before I reply?

What has happened, what have you done, and how can I help at this point.

Again, my apologies.