Merge's Blog

Don’t set employees up to fail

I often blog about how managers, sometimes inadvertently, set employees up to fail.  Unfortunately, this issue comes up repeatedly.  Which leads me to the opening question in today’s post: if you want to successfully run a marathon, would you do it blindfolded?

Would you run a marathon blindfolded?

set employees up to fail

Of course not.  Yet, it is exactly what is asked of so many employees by their managers in workplaces across the country!  And every time they do that (often unintentionally), they set employees up to fail.

When people are asked to complete tasks or fulfill responsibilities but they are not given the tools and information they need in order to successfully get the job done, it is the metaphoric equivalent of trying to run a marathon without the benefit of sight.  Even if there are people on the sidelines shouting out instructions, yelling louder does not get the runner to the finish line.  What the marathoner really needs to be successful is an overview of the course with a mental picture of the finish line, adequate running gear (shoes, etc.), mile markers at strategic points to indicate progress, onlookers offering encouragement along the way, and oh yes, the crystal-clear ability to see where s/he is going.

How would you remove the blindfold at work?

In a work environment, the metaphoric “removal of the blindfold” includes:

  • Making sure your employees understand the big picture and how they and what they are doing fits into it.
  • Giving them the access to information and resources they require in order to get the job done.
  • Providing regular feedback to let them know how they’re doing.
  • Creating a positive workplace where they feel valued and encouraged.

Which leads to the obvious question – are you blindfolding your employees, or giving them the gift of sight?  Would love to hear about your experiences, personal and third-party, good and bad, of how we set employees up to fail.  Please add your comments below.

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