Peggy from Toronto writes,

“I have a boss who drives us all crazy. He says he wants things done a certain way, but when people don’t do it, nothing happens. And there are some people around here who just don’t pull their weight. How do we give our boss a backbone?”

The inability or unwillingness to enforce strict standards is the perhaps the most common failing among managers at all levels. It has significant implications on performance levels, and ranks as one of the top frustrations among high-performing employees. In fairness, taking a strong stand involves both confrontation and risk – two things that people by nature try to avoid.

Few of us enjoy the type of interactions that come with drawing a line in the sand. The unfortunate result is that bosses all too often close their eyes to issues in hopes that they will just go away on their own.

One thing you can do to encourage your boss to apply more consistent consequences to sub-par performance is to make a point to openly support him (her) in those times when he does take a stand. Sometimes all a boss needs is a little reassurance from his employees that they respect the difficult decisions that have to be made.

One cautionary note: Be careful what you wish for. If your boss does begin applying consequences to a strict standard, they will apply to you as well – so make sure that your performance is up to par.

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