Winning with employees: All talk and no action

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One of the common frustrations we hear about in our leadership workshops is how to deal with the employee who seems to have fantastic potential, but never seem to live up to it. When it comes to talking about things, he (she) nails it. He clearly understands the job, and what it takes to get the job done. He paints a vivid picture of the amazing outcomes he will achieve. You walk away with high hopes, and satisfied that you have delegated things to the right person.

The only problem is that he never actually really does it. Oh, he always has excuses, of course. There’s no shortage of those. But there’s a huge shortage in the action department. What do you do? A lot of time, what we perceive as laziness is actually just a creative person who lacks the discipline for execution. It’s not uncommon for people who are conceptually creative to struggle with execution.

Their brains are wired for lateral thinking, but the organizational skills required for putting plans into action don’t come naturally to them. The good news is that it is easier to develop these individuals than it is those who are wired the opposite way; people who are great at executing things, but lacking in creativity.

You can help your all-talk-but-no-action employee by teaching him how to break action items into smaller, bite-sized, parts. One of the biggest reasons he isn’t taking action is that he is simply overwhelmed. He sees large pictures, and doesn’t have the skill or experience to see the smaller components, or the sequence in which they need to be done. It will take time and patience, but if you can teach him how to organize things, and put the pieces together like a puzzle, he has the potential to become a tremendously valuable asset to the organization.

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