Occasionally, people complain about how often others fail to follow their instructions. I was having coffee with a business colleague and he was telling me how frustrated he was by the fact that some members of his team don’t report for work on time. He remarked, “No one ever had to tell me to be on time for work.” Although I totally agree with his stance, I recalled a quote by Samuel Johnson,
People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.
As a team leader, reminding people is part of the job. Following up with consequences is the next step in the process. I often compare being a supervisor with being a parent. Training small children to do tasks takes repetition. Similarly, training team members to do tasks takes repetition as well. The mistake leaders sometimes make is thinking “One-and- done. I’ve told them, therefore it should happen”. This can be a set up for frustration and failure. A good course of action is to set clear expectations. Then, follow up with consequences if the expectations are not met and rewards when they are. Too often, we make the mistake of assuming people know what we expect. Next time someone’s behavior is annoying, ask yourself, how do they know I want different behavior? Have I enforced the performance standard? What’s going to happen next?