Skip to main content

Edition 174 – Loud Actions Silent Words

In my regular Quarterly Meeting with some fantastic clients recently, we discussed the issue of a staff member who appears to have plateaued in their development.

This is a business where a magnificent opportunity was presented to a highly skilled individual to not only join the business, but learn at the feet of someone who is, arguably, one of the best in their field in all of Australia. You’re talking here of an employer whose professional opinion is sought by others in his field and by the world of academia. Very, very smart person.

When the new employee joined the business a year ago, both employer and employee agreed to set aside time in the work week to develop the employee.

In the early days, progress was made. However, in the past 6 months, it’s dialled off completely. To the point where the employer is becoming frustrated – a trait he does not exhibit that often.

He explained to me the methods he’d used to coax the employee to put in effort to get ahead of the added learning tasks he’d set aside for his employee. All of it seemed like the work of a model employer.

As the frustration grew in his voice as the story was told, I decided it was time to ask the killer question.

“Whose ambition is this anyway?”

“What?” was the immediate reply.

“Whose ambition is it to undertake this additional study and on the job training to advance a skillset?” was my follow up question.

“Well, she told me she wanted to learn all these things, so we mapped out a plan and we …..”.

At this point, I raised my hand, like a policeman does at an intersection when the traffic light are out.

“Actions always speak louder than words” was my point.

As we further drilled down into the issue, we were able to work out:

  1. The employee seemed to be content in other parts of their life right now.
  2. The trail off in development had happened after the 6 month probation period had expired.
  3. The skillset the employee currently possessed still enabled them to perform at least 40% of the total work that came in the door.
  4. That my client’s time he was investing in development of this staff member, would be better spent in developing further marketing opportunities for the business.

We agreed that he should leave the next step up to the employee. Every other course of action, to this point, has been led by the employer. Essentially, we’re setting a test for the employee to see when they decide to do something – or whether they notice that the employer is waiting for them to do something.

Always, actions speak louder than words.

For those of your employees whose actions exhibit enthusiasm, interest and a thirst for learning, invest in them.

For the others, provided they’re doing the job adequately, remember, every business needs plodders (refer Edition 77 of Growth)