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Leadership Tip: Reliability – What to do if the person you hire is just not reliable | discoveryourpowerteam.com

Leadership Tip: Reliability – What to do if the person you hire is just not reliable

reliable employees

On a recent group coaching call, one of the entrepreneus asked me how to deal with the fact that one of her team members was not reliable. Let me give you some background on the situation and provide you some tips and techniques for leading an individual on your team who is not performing according to expectations. 


This entrepreneur, let’s call her Liz hired an individual we will call Kathy on a contract basis.  Kathy’s role was to approach different companies and invite them to sponsor a particular event. The agreement was that Kathy would earn a commission on every sponsorship she secured. 

Two weeks into the assignment, Liz had heard nothing from Kathy, so she called Kathy for an update. Kathy stated that she was working on it, all was well, and she would report back to Liz when she had some news. Two more weeks passed before Liz realized she still had not heard from Kathy.  This is where Liz asked me for advice on what to do with this “unreliable” person. 


As the business owner, if this happened to you, what would you do?  Fire Kathy? Speak with Kathy?  Do nothing and wait?  Here is what I suggested to Liz.


I asked Liz what made her conclude that Kathy was unreliable. Liz deemed Kathy unreliable because she did not secure any sponsorships, probably had not approached any companies and did not communicate back on a regular basis.  Was Kathy indeed unreliable?  I don’t know. Perhaps, perhaps not. Were expectations clearly outlined and agreed upon at the onset?


Unclear expectations is the number one reason why entrepreneurs end up being disappointed with the individuals they hire to help them. When team members fail to produce the desired results, business owners can give credence to their little voice that says, “I told you so; no one can do it better than I.” This is the belief that causes business owners to revert back to their old habits of doing everything themselves and ban delegation from their vocabulary. It doesn’t have to be that way!


Getting back to Liz and Kathy, it became clear that expectations had not been defined and shared at the start of the assignment.  As I mentioned earlier, this is often the case.  That being said, the situation can be salvaged, if both parties are in willing to work this through. As a result, I suggested that Liz:

  • clearly outline the task and her expectations including number of companies she wanted Kathy to approach per week, types of companies she wanted Kathy to approach, what project information she wanted Kathy to share with potential sponsors, how often she wanted Kathy to report back and what information she wanted from Kathy during these status updates
  • meet with Kathy to discuss progress thus far and find out from Kathy what issues she was having with the task and what she felt Liz could do to help
  • create a system or process outlining the steps one should take when approaching potential sponsors
  • review the task description, desired outcomes, expectations and the process map with Kathy. 

The goal of the meeting was to reset the agreement by clarifying expectations and deliverables and determining if Kathy had the knowledge, skill and interest to achieve the desired results.


When resetting expectations with a team member, be sure to gain her agreement on what needs to be done and determine a date and time for the next status update.  Advise her of what she should do if she has questions or if issues arise.  Most importantly, be sure to meet at the designated date and time to review progress. 


If you find that once you have reset expectations, the individual is still not performing adequately, you have to let her go.  You will have to invest time and energy to find a replacement; however this will be less taxing on you than keeping someone on staff who isn’t pulling their weight, is not interested in the task or simply does not have the knowledge or expertise required.

What issues have you encountered when having people assist you in your business?  What has worked for you? If you have any comments or questions, feel free to email me at sherleygrace@DiscoverYourPowerTeam.com

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