One of the biggest complaints I hear most from front line supervisors is how they can’t get their direct reports to follow their direction. The direction may be to change a behavior, or to follow through on a promise. The phase I hear most from frustrated managers is “I’ve told them a thousand times,” followed by “but nothing ever changes.”

The first problem here is exaggeration and the second problem is accountability. The reality is, you have probably told them a half a dozen times, not a thousand. They heard you the first time. They either weren’t clear about your request, or they didn’t take it seriously.

Assuming they were clear about your requests, the reason they didn’t comply is because there was no method of accountability. You didn’t set a date to revisit to acknowledge improvement. Even if you did revisit, there were no consequences for unproductive behaviors.

Employees want to be successful and your job is to help them course-correct unproductive behaviors so they are clear about your vision for success.

When in doubt about why someone didn’t fulfill an assignment, ask them what the issue was. Was it lack of understanding? Direction or resources?

Post originally published on Stop Workplace Drama

Marlene Chism is a consultant, international speaker and the author of “Stop Workplace Drama” (Wiley 2011) and “No-Drama Leadership” (Bibliomotion 2015). Visit her at and connect via LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.


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