“With so many operational responsibilities I don’t have time to develop my team. I just get out of their way and let them do their own thing.” If you’ve heard a manager say this or have said it yourself, read on. This “pain point” is not uncommon, but left without a resolution will lead to nothing more than average results, greater turnover and status quo performance. Guaranteed!

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About 45 years ago, I was enjoying some coffee and conversation with friends at Hamilton College in upstate New York. We were joined by a new friend who had just arrived from China to attend Hamilton. Although this was his first trip to the US, his English was impressive. We Americans were drinking coffee, but he went for a cup of tea — his first cup of tea from a place like our student union. The server on the cafeteria line handed him a Styrofoam cup and a tea bag and explained how he could get hot water, sugar, etc..

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A client recently asked me to help his managers think about two issues: 1) how do you know if an individual has a performance problem, and 2) how do you address the problem?

My immediate reaction expressed incredulity. You don’t know whether an individual has a performance problem!!? How can this be? However, upon reflection I realized that situation is more common than it ought to be. Here are few instances I can personally remember:

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