Jumping to Conclusions – Challenging Assumptions

You might remember that last week we looked at the choices a manager has in how s/he deals with a case of unsatisfactory performance and we suggested three.

1 – Get your message across

so that you explicitly inform the person of your need.

2 – Ask questions to get information

so that you know the appropriate action to take.

3 – Coach the person

so that they are clear about what they have to do differently.

Before going directly into the meeting with the person there’s something important that we have to look at and it’s around the assumptions we tend to make.

Because of the price being paid or the damage being done by somebody behaving, or performing unsatisfactorily, it is easy to become frustrated and to jump to conclusions.

One conclusion we can jump to is that the person, for some weird reason, simply doesn’t want to ‘up’ their performance or change their behaviour.

While this may, in fact, be the case, it is only one possible reason for their unsatisfactory performance.

Whenever there is a problem with anybody in any sphere of life then one or more of three things is happening:

  • The person does not know that their performance isn’t good enough.
  • It may be that they do know their performance isn’t good enough but don’t want to change it, for some reason.
  • It is often the case that a person does know that there is a problem, does want to do something about it but again, for some reason, is not able to.

Take the case of the alcoholic as an example of this.

There are alcoholics who don’t know they are alcoholics. They don’t know they have a problem, they began drinking alcohol and increased their intake gradually but still see it as normal and don’t see that they have a problem.

There will be many cases of people who are drinking too much alcohol and know they are doing so, also know the downsides and dangers involved, but don’t want to change.

And thirdly, there will be many alcoholics we do know they have a problem, would like to change their drinking habits but are unable to do so.

You can see from this that barging into the lives of an alcoholic with some predetermined conclusion and message around what they should do would be foolhardy and futile.

It is no different with the unsatisfactory performer at work.
They too will fall into one of these three categories.

The point of this is that it is not wise to decide on a particular approach until we know to which category a person belongs.

So before taking any action in terms of dealing with either unacceptable performance or unacceptable behavior we need to find out to which category the person belongs as this will help to make our intervention more focused and effective.

Can you think of some people with whose performance you are not really satisfied and find out which category they belong to ? Try it. Then you will KNOW which of the three approaches to use.