Content created by Ali Uren Founder of Kiikstart

While it’s not always comfortable, Leaders need to be confident enough to ask themselves, regularly, why staff under perform in their teams and the wider organization.

The answers and insights may be hard to digest but isn’t that the one of the most important responsibilities of looking after other people. And developing other people as a priority if you are in a role of leadership and influence.

You step up and identify where the skill gaps, threats and risks are, or could potentially be, then you work with said staff member and co-design a solution. Often you will find the gaps are in your own workplace practice and knowledge base.

Too often I hear leaders saying to me during times of transformation and change, “some of my people are just not up to standard, I thought they would be doing xyz in this particular way but they’re not”.

And the one question that I always ask– can you tell me what resources and support you have provided so your staff can deliver excellence and meet these expectations?

Two things happen when you ask this question:

  • Radio silence – first up (which is perfectly normal as most people have never been asked this question directly – nor given the time to reflect on their response)
  • Then a realisation that they have not been providing the knowledge, resources and workplace for their people to do great, to be excellent in times of transformation and change.


Businesses will continue to waste money and time with no return on employee learning in times of organizational wide transformation and change until they make it part of their reality to ask that very question.

Exactly how is the business making it possible and enjoyable for staff to do great and deliver excellence in periods of often complex, ongoing change?

If you are in a role of influencing and leading others, ask yourself this every week and often. And make time to ask your team the same question and then think about how you can implement the ideas and observations that will follow.

When we come to this confronting realisation that times, we are failing our people in this space, only then it is possible to start creating a planned response.

A response that has the ability to change an employee’s workplace reality long term. Positively.

Never make time for the question though you never get the valuable insights that make an impact on employees and the financial position of the business.

Make time for reflection before the problem becomes harder to solve. Which it is certainly destined to do without your deliberate intervention.


So, let’s share the five self-reflective questions we ask our clients when setting up standards and expectations around the change in employee behaviour and actions during the transformation and change piece.

These questions will help re-design the workplace reality for employees and create a greater sense of buy in across all roles – including leaders and emerging leaders.

These questions gain the insights, ideas and observations that will close the gap between workplace fantasy and employer reality

What are the expectations of the business in terms of how roles are delivered during the period of transformation and change? This includes what is delivered in terms of role responsibilities and how ( in terms of style and manner).

Think about what the business is hoping to achieve in terms of outcomes and impact.

How is the business providing staff with the resources, learning and support to deliver on these expectations?

What real workplace evidence and case studies is there to support your response.

If there is inadequate support, who’s responsible for working with staff to provide a solution?

Who is going to own this reality and put it right with employees?

Working alongside the staff member what learning, support and resources will help them deliver to expectations?

Staff buy in and control over what this looks like is essential.

What resources will the business provide to ensure it can close the gap between expectation in terms of delivery and staff reality?

Clearly outline the commitment the business will make to the employee, so they are able to fulfill expectations and reach their potential.

Also be clear on what commitment, change in actions/behaviour and buy in from the employee you need so both parties can deliver sustainable outcomes and impact.

I understand there will of course be employees that are not the right fit for the business and vice versa and a parting of the ways will be the only solution.

This is a different conversation with your HR or People and Culture teams.

From working with over 1000’s of clients to design and create sustainable change most staff want to do great work but don’t have the workplace reality to make it happen. This is the responsibility of leaders to create the environment for transformation and change – not the employees.

Be fair and reasonable with your expectations based on what you have provided employees up until now and see a different type of relationship emerge. If you know there are gaps, own these, communicate it to the team and make a clear statement of what you will do to create a different future.

Want to make changes to your own communications style and workplace practice to create a different type of business and team? Reach out at kiikstart.com/contact or linkedin.com/company/17967585

Or if you want to keep across the lessons learnt from our project work in the real world and receive useful tips, insights and content, please join us by signing up to our semi regular newsletter at www.kiikstart.com/ Generosity matters to us.

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