Guest Post by John Barrett

There are two questions that a leader must ask when a team member is not accomplishing the mission of the organization.

The first question you must ask is, “Is it because they don’t want to?”

The second question is, “Is it because they don’t know how?”

There is a world of difference between the answers to those two questions. The first answer is an issue of attitude and work ethic, the other is simply an issue of knowledge and skills. It is much easier to develop knowledge and skill than it is to develop attitude and work ethic.

A leader must know what they are dealing with in order to know how to develop the individual. Training and developing someone who doesn’t want to do the work, will only lead to prolonged agony. On the other hand bringing the hammer down on someone who simply hasn’t had enough training to do the job asked of them will also result in prolonged agony as well!

The leader has to know what they are facing when they are not seeing the results they want. “I don’t want to” or “I don’t know how” are two completely different methods of action. Make sure that you know where your people are at before you make brash decisions.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow said, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”

How you see the team will determine how you treat the team. Make sure that you see the best in your team and see the potential they are capable of. Respect is a major building block of meaningful relationships and strong teamwork. Ari Kiev writes, “Everyone wants to feel that he/she counts for something and is important to someone. Invariably, people will give their love, respect, and attention to the person who fills that need.”

In other words, believing the best in people brings out the best in people, and that is where respect is birthed. Respect for the leader and respect from the leader is a two way street. There are occasions however when you are not able to develop someone, especially someone who does not want to be developed. It’s time to take a good look at what kind of employee you have when they start to use phrases like….

  • “I have to go to work.” Rather than, “I get to go to work.”
  • “Do I have to do this tasks?” Rather than, “I get to do this task.”
  • “Does it really matter?” Rather than, “Let’s do what matters!”
  • “When do I get to leave?” Rather than, “What can I accomplish today?”

When employees start to make more excuses than solutions they are in the danger zone. As the leader you must make sure that you identify who and where your team is at. If your organization’s mission is to climb trees would you rather hire a horse or a squirrel? Make sure you are developing the right people, the right way, in the right direction.

JohnBarrettJohn Barrett is a sought after leadership and business coach/speaker/trainer who has been trained by world renown author and leadership expert Dr. John C. Maxwell. John is known for his passion to inspire others to greater opportunities. He is partnered with The John Maxwell Team and also owns and operates his own company that serves the business and non-profit community.  You can connect with John on his website:


Bob Tiede


Bob has been on the staff of Cru for 52 years. He currently serves on the U.S. Leadership Development Team and is passionate about seeing leaders grow and multiply their effectiveness. Bob and his wife, Sherry, live in Plano, TX and are blessed with 4 incredible children and 8 remarkable grandchildren.


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4 thoughts on “2 Questions to Ask When Someone Is Not Producing

  1. Ric Routh says:

    And a third question: Is it because something or someone in the environment is interfering with them in their quest to produce?

    1. Bob Tiede says:

      Ric that is a great 3rd Question! Thanks

  2. Tom Ziglar says:

    Great questions! Thank you Bob for sharing.
    In our training we say there are only 3 reasons why someone doesn’t do their job:
    1. Have not been trained/or don’t know its their job
    2. Don’t have the resources
    3. Attitude

    So, when someone doesn’t do their job we ask them 3 questions: Have you been trained to do this and do you know this is your responsibility? Do you have the resources to do the job? (if yes to these two then the third question) Help me understand how not doing your job supports the mission of the company?

    Appreciate you Bob!

    1. Bob Tiede says:

      Those are 3 Great Questions Tom – Of course from you I would expect nothing less! Thank You!

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