Why Employees Don't Do What They're Supposed To Do and What To Do About It

Talk about a super long title that clearly states what a book is about! When you pick up "Why Employees Don't Do What They're Supposed To Do and What To Do About It" by Ferdinand F. Fournies, there's no doubt what you think you are getting. The question is of course if you DO get that and how valuable the information is.

There are apparently 16 different reasons why an employee might not do what they should. These are: They don't know why, they don't know how, they don't know what, they think your way won't work, they think their way is better, they think something else is more important, there are no positive consequences, they think they ARE doing it, they are rewarded for NOT doing it, they are punished for doing it, they anticipate negative consequences, there are no negative consequences for NOT doing it, there are obstacles they can't fix, they have personal limits, they have personal problems, and the task is simply impossible. That's quite a lot of reasons for one "problem"! Just having that list can really be helpful. A manager who thinks "My employee is simply an idiot! I told him what to do!" might take a step back and realize there really IS a problem that can be fixed, once it is identified.

I realize that a lot of these items are common sense - but it's amazing how many times in the workplace that I've seen bad managers completely ignore the real problem and just yell at an employee. That rarely helps!

Now, while the basic list is good, I do have some issues with this book. The first is that the book opens telling you "Now a manager could be assaulted or killed by the employee [for not handling problems effectively]." Good God Almighty. Talk about a nasty way to sell a book - "read me or you could DIE!!!"

The book does a good job of laying out each type of problem in detail, and then giving specific solutions. You might say "they're common sense" but obviously if so many managers out there are NOT handling these situations well, they need a little kick in the behind. Maybe they're just too stressed and aren't actually thinking about the problem. Maybe this book will help give them that extra insight they need into using a good solution.

One thing that bothers me is that the book makes it seem that every problem CAN be solved by following these few easy steps. There's a small FAQ in the back that says in essence "Oh yeah, sometimes this fails and you'll have to demote or fire the person." It would have been more helpful if in each section there were the regular tips, but also "drastic steps" and then "when to give up". I suppose they want to be positive - but if they give you only a few things to try, and they aren't working, it would be good to have a progression of what to do next. To keep trying those same things becomes an exercise in futility and frustration. In fact, it's sort of funny, he says at one point that, if these tips don't work, go buy my next book to learn what to do then :)

Still, it's a good basic primer for the new manager of how to handle a variety of situations. I definitely have worked in many situations where managers did NOT know these things and the environment suffered because of it. If you feel like you already know these things, borrow the book at the library and skim through - you might pick up a tip or two. If you're a new manager, then I would suggest buying this. It's the sort of book that you read in the bathroom, going just over a single chapter, and focussing on how to handle that one specific issue. You're probably going to run into all of these issues over time, if you stay on a managerial path.

Printable Version of 16 Reasons

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