You coach. But they don’t listen.

Being a manager has its ups and downs. Sometimes, your team is on a roll; they’re rock stars. Things are going great. They’re following your direction and they’re hitting goals. Then you get to celebrate! Other times, nothing seems to be going right. You know you’ve got good people, but you can’t get them to follow your lead. You coach and train them several times, and while most of them catch on, there’s that one person who will continually do things his own way, despite all the time you spent training and coaching.

When you talk with the person, he tells you that his way of doing things works better for him. But you know that in order to be the most efficient and hit your team goals, the way you’ve trained is the best way. You have experience, and even though there can be more than one way to get the end result, right now you need that person to focus on what you’ve taught him.

When you coach and they won’t listen…

  1. Evaluate: Ask yourself whether or not the task truly needs to be done the way that you are asking the employee to do it. Are your own biases getting in the way of being open-minded? Is it possible that there might be more than one way to do it?
  2. Understand: What is common sense to you is not necessarily common sense to someone else. Take the time to understand why the person believes his way is the best. You need to ask good questions. It will be easier to address the issue if you understand the problem better.
  3. Empathize: You know behavior change takes a lot of practice and repetition. If the person has been doing it the wrong way for a long time, this behavior or habit will not change overnight. It will take time and practice. For someone who is learning a new task, doing it a new way will actually take more effort and time in the beginning until the habit has changed completely.
  4. Communicate: Discuss the consequences. Have you talked about what the next steps will be if the person is not able to change his behavior? Have you talked about the big picture and why it is so important for him to change? If not, this is absolutely necessary.
  5. Follow Up: In order to hold others accountable, you have to follow up. Check-in frequently and provide feedback on any improvement or lack of improvement you notice.

Finally, it’s important to make sure your employee is a good fit for the job. Does he have the capability and skills necessary to do the task correctly? If not, does he need additional training or skill development? Allowing people to fail on the job is just as much your responsibility as a manager as it is the employee. Time to coach up or coach out of the position. Ask the employee if he feels he can be successful. Is there another position that is better suited to his skills?

As a manager, you have to take responsibility not only for your actions and success but for the actions and success of your team. Take action. Don’t sit back and watch your team fail.