Every now and then you can find yourself with an employee who always seems to be on the lookout for an easy way out. He (she) provides you with estimates when you need exact numbers. He cuts and pastes important documents that really should be created from scratch. He sends an email when he should have picked up the telephone. Sometimes these employees are genuinely trying to be more efficient, and sometimes they’re just being lazy. Whichever the case, the result can be substandard quality which can have dramatic repercussions to an organization.

For a manager, this is an example of when it is critical to have and maintain a clearly communicated set of non-negotiable performance standards. You can’t let these kinds of performance issues slide – not even once. If you do, you’re giving tacit permission for employees to continue doing it the same way. You have to stand your ground; you have to insist things get done right; and you have to provide consequences if the same type of failure persist.

It’s also important to closely examine the reasons why an employee may be taking shortcuts. Does he genuinely have too much work to do, and this is the only way they can get things done? Have you provided the employee with the proper training or tools to be as effective or efficient as he should be in his job? Remember that every time you have to enforce a performance standard, you should also take a quick look in the mirror. You owe your employees proper direction, appreciation, respect, and the tools to do a good job. Once you’ve done that, though, it becomes their responsibility is to achieve the standard you set for them.

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