The Human Resource: Is that my job?

Do you have days at work where you simply cannot understand why your peers are not performing their assigned tasks? Is your ability to successfully complete your own work dependent upon other employees in your department or organization?

Ever wonder why nothing is done about it? Perhaps the craziest situation you have experienced under these circumstances was your supervisor asking you to motivate your peers or hold others accountable to get the job done. Is that your job?

For all of you employees out there with no supervisory responsibilities in your position pay close attention to this article. Similarly, for those with direct staff responsibility, take this information to heart and have the necessary conversations with your management to rectify these situations.

Recently, I was asked to mentor an employee to enhance productivity and ensure the individual was “properly motivating other employees to get the work done.” Certainly, this was a well-intended request to provide guidance to an employee on how to work more effectively with other members of the team and department, right? Unfortunately, this was not the case.

In speaking with the employee, it was clear there was an expectation that he/she hold his or her peers accountable for job performance. I was asked directly “is that my job?” I responded, “No, that is the job of management/supervision,” and explained the scope of the role this individual was in.

This situation is not all that uncommon in the workplace. The cause? Failure by management to train supervisors on effective performance management practices including setting goals and expectations, measuring performance, providing feedback, and holding the employee accountable for job performance.

This situation is complicated further when ineffective supervisors inappropriately transfer responsibility of supervision to employees with the expectation that they will hold other employees accountable for job performance.

Now for a tangent, as this article is not implying that employees do not collaborate, work together, motivate successful teamwork and thought leadership across the organization. Rather, we want to highlight the misguided and inappropriate expectations passed from ineffective supervisors on to hard working employees who expect to be treated fairly. Expecting an employee paid to do their job to also supervise and manage other staff, especially peers, creates problems.

As an employee, you should recognize the scope of your responsibilities in your role. If you are unclear, speak with your supervisor about your job description and what the essential functions of your job are. If supervision of other employees is not in that document, then ask why you are being expected to manage the performance of your peers.

Performance management is the responsibility of a supervisor who has the authority to hold subordinates accountable and implement corrective action or discipline. If you do not have that authority, then you should not be expected to “motivate” other employees to perform the job they are paid to perform.

Finally, for the employee, remember that the supervisor is compensated commensurate with their role and position in the company, with the responsibility to manage the performance of the workforce. Therefore, to answer the initial question, no, motivating and managing the performance of your peers is not your job.

Supervisors and managers, it’s time for reflection and retrospect on how you are presently managing the job performance of your direct reports. Do you own your responsibility as a supervisor, or do you ask the employees to manage each other?

If you take the same approach as in the situation presented at the beginning of this article, not only are you failing to execute the duties of your position, but you are unintentionally and inappropriately creating a workplace environment and culture in which accountability does not exist.

Additionally, you may be creating employee relation issues from poor morale to lack of trust and confidence in leadership. Ask yourself if you are performing your duties or passing them on to individuals who lack the authority to do so. Do not put your employees in such a challenging and complex situation as it will frustrate them and lead to ineffective communication amongst peers.

Now the good news. You can avoid these pitfalls and obstacles to an effective and productive workforce by taking time to develop the appropriate foundation for supervisor and employee job responsibilities.

Employees are hired and paid to perform their job, and they expect management to take care of holding the workforce accountable. Supervisors are hired and paid to perform their job, which includes the execution of their authority to hold the workforce accountable for job performance. Do not blend the two roles; train your supervisors well to achieve the greatest level of success in delineating responsibilities and building trust in leadership.

* The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ownership or management of Chadds Ford Live. We welcome opposing viewpoints. Readers may comment in the comments section or they may submit a Letter to the Editor to: editor@chaddsfordlive.com

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About Warren Cook

Warren S. Cook is a co-founder of SymbianceHR and leads all client-consulting engagements. He is a human capital strategy management subject matter expert with more than 20 years of experience as a strategic business partner, project manager, and people leader across private and public sectors organizations. Warren is responsible for all client-consulting engagements from initial needs assessment and compliance review through delivery of customized complex human capital strategy solutions that meet the client's business goals. He has a proven track record of providing executive coaching and guidance to business leaders and human resource professionals at all levels including the C-Suite of Fortune 100 companies. Warren combines his human capital, project management, and business management experience with a philosophy of solving business challenges through the strategic implementation of policies, processes, and procedures to deliver sustainable solutions that demonstrate ROI, mitigate and manage risk, and empower organizational success. Warren is the author of “Applicant Interview Preparation – Practical Coaching for Today” and holds a bachelor of science degree in human resource management, a master’s of business administration in project management, and a master’s of science degree in industrial and organizational psychology. He is also a SHRM Certified Professional.

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