When good habits bring bad results (It may not be your team members who are underperforming.)

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When good habits bring bad results

“They know what they need to do; they’re just not doing it.”

That was how someone judged their team members in a recent conversation. The person wanted to know how they could get the people on their team to step up and pull their weight. Some were producing results, and others weren’t.

I asked about how they assessed the performance of their team members. When they said people weren’t pulling their weight, were they talking about outcomes or habits?

Through the discussion, it came out that the underperformers were actually living up to the expectations of habits. All of the measures of behavior were just fine. It was their results that were disappointing.

Oh… and interestingly enough, those who were delivering the outcomes the organization wanted? It turns out they weren’t necessarily using the habits that the leadership suggested.

So, no… they didn’t know what they needed to do to get results.

And yes… they actually were doing the things that their leadership had suggested.

As a leader, don’t confuse habit measures with outcome measures.

For senior team members, set the outcome measures, and let them find their own habits to deliver those outcomes.

For junior team members, if you’re going to suggest and measure habits, then the burden is on your shoulders to make sure the habits will produce the outcomes you want. If they don’t, then help your junior team members find new habits that will deliver those results.

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