Why is it that good employees sometimes become difficult to manage? This is one of the questions caring managers frequently ask themselves. Several reasons can be attributed to the burn-out phenomenon many leaders witness in their employees.
- Personal Problems: Some of the most common reasons for poor performance are problems unrelated to work. Financial woes, troubled personal relationships, health complications, and a myriad of other problems can affect the performance of the most dedicated of employees.
- Conflicting Priorities: The Department of Veterans Affairs continues to struggle with patient access problems. As a result, new policies and process changes continue to challenge managers and employees. It is challenging to lead a team through change even when it is gradual. The rapid implementation of new standard operating procedures and constant re-training of employees to meet those standards can take a toll in overall morale as well as in performance.
- Inexperienced Leadership: As discussed in previous blogs, managers’ performance can make or break a team. The “do as I say; don’t do as I do” is not a realistic expectation for any team. Employees are drawn to strong leadership; the stronger the leader, the harder the employees will work. Often the first instinct of an inexperienced leader is to delegate everything. Unfortunately, this decision will severely limit the leader’s learning opportunities. Continue setting the example of your expectations by learning and being willing to do some work instead of delegating everything that comes to your desk.
- No Career Advancement Opportunities: The Department of Veterans Affairs, Patient Administration Service has been facing a retention problem for many years. Employees that are motivated or career oriented leave the department after serving for an average of one and a half to two years. There is no clear career ladder to climb and as result, good employees are lost faster than the service can replace them. The current career advancement opportunities within the services are more like a monarchy; everyone is waiting for the king or queen to step down for an opportunity to step up. This is a government-wide problem that is not easily resolved without major restructuring of current HR practices.
- Lack of Acknowledgement: One of the biggest problems faced by teams and managers in all branches of the government is the lack of acknowledgement. A common trend is fresh employees or leaders slowly losing initial motivation after their efforts go unnoticed. I have been to meetings where the leaders congratulate each other for a job well done, while employees are not acknowledged for their part in the mission. Always remember that a leader cannot exist without a team. A leader without a team is not a leader but an individual.
Employees’ performance is dependent on many factors. There are some signs and symptoms that can be controlled, as well as recognized early on by exercising caring leadership. Caring for the team’s morale and wellbeing can yield greater results even when the stakes are raised by constant change. The burn-out phenomenon may not always be prevented but disaster can be averted with a little more care and attention to detail from effective leaders.
Alberto Principe is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.