Somehow I’m posting again about human resources.

I just finished a long overdue one on one with an important employee of ours. When he started with us he was full of energy and willing to do just about anything – roll with the punches etc. He started nearly at the level of a work student, which is something just above an intern in the German career timeline. But it was obvious this person could handle more, so I learned what his dreams and motivations were and gave him an official title to work towards, with more responsibility. That was a really positive move, he started to apply the same hard working, proactive methods on more things that were more important to us. Unfortunately after a while some things started to go wrong, and by the end of the year a great success story on the team became a dark shadow on the rise.

At the time the little slips first happened, they were not issues I or anyone else recognized as huge deviations, but surely a snowball effect can happen in these cases. Things got bad for this person, for a while it looked like we’d have to let him go, but we did what we could to fix the situation.

Now months later, I had a one on one with him which was a really nice, resolving conversation about his job and his future, what he will do next, and our varying ideas about how to do all things better at the company. I also finally discovered the original source of the string of problems that made for a long uncomfortable period for him and anyone working with him. Essentially the drive for all that motivation and the ready to execute attitude was weaned away in a series of events, starting with the very first – when a new policy was put into place over his head. Since he wasn’t included, it was not discovered that he didn’t agree with the new policy. But being such a go getter and one who was pleasing all, he let that instance go. However soon other disagreements with decisions came along, and more policy changes were made over his head. Eventually he decided – because we wasn’t being included – he just wouldn’t worry about a whole list of things that should be included in his ongoing duties and responsibilities. And because of that he just stopped caring. And stopped trying.

While I admitted this was clearly a misstep from his managers, it was still something to learn from. Sometimes you need to manage up, tell those who normally give you marching orders, that they aren’t doing their jobs right or they are wasting valuable time by doing your job for you.

There are more lessons than that in this tale, like don’t underestimate the small things, and even if something small happens, if it conflicts with some key issues for you, it’s worth it to discuss that. Also for me, do one on ones more often, and don’t assume someone else is doing it. Or even if someone else is doing it, get your own feedback time, you might learn something the others didn’t.


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