The Boss Didnt Understand Why His Staff Wasnt Reading His Mind

by : Laurie Weiss, Ph.D

Many people believe that everyone sees the world exactly the same way as they do. This is never true and was the source of much turmoil in Dr. Jacob’s office.

When the Job Isn’t Getting Done

“They never seem to get any work done on time, but they complain that they're being underutilized."

Dr. Jacob, a chiropractor, was talking about his office staff.

“I have to do so many things myself that they could do for me, but they don't. They just don't seem care about what I want. I just don't understand. I pay them well and they need their jobs."

As Dr. Jacob’s frustration increased, he explored the idea that he had hired inappropriate people in the first place. He reflected that if only he could find the proper leverage he thought he could make them do what he had hired them to do.

Leverage to Dr. Jacob meant the proper combination of rewards and threats.

Guidelines May Be Necessary

When I asked about what guidelines the staff was given to do their work Dr. Jacob admitted that he let them set up their own procedures with very little input from him. He communicated his expectations very vaguely, because he himself hated to be told what to do.

Dr. Jacob thought if he were “nice" to them, they would like him and work hard to assure the success of the office.

Unclear Expectations Produce A Schizophrenic Experience for the Boss and His Staff

Dr. Jacob only got angry when they didn't meet his admittedly non-specific performance expectations. When he got frustrated enough, he would insist that his rules be followed; telling his confused and demoralized staff exactly how to do what he expected. They were constantly seesawing between unclear expectations and over-detailed instructions that discounted their intelligence and experience.

Giving Others What You Need For Yourself May NOT Work

Dr. Jacob argued when I suggested that he needed to create clear guidelines for his staff and then leave them alone to do their jobs. He was sure his staff would hate him and quit if he did that, and he firmly believed they would never get any work done without closer supervision.

Dr. Jacob believed that everyone in the world hated structure as much as he did.

When I explained that most people need and want structured guidelines in order to feel safe and happy, Dr. Jacob was surprised. He explained how he had been forced to follow rules for most of his life and cherished his present freedom. He assumed that everybody else felt exactly the same way he did.

Give Your Staff What They Need to Produce Results

He experimented with the idea that some people felt nurtured by structure. Warily, he started telling his office manager only the outcomes he wanted including necessary completion times.

The office manager competently communicated the work requirements, the staff happily met them, and Dr. Jacob was immensely relieved.

©Laurie Weiss, Ph.D.