Do you have employees who, in your opinion, think they are more proficient than they are or think they should advance faster than you believe is realistic?

How you handle the situation will make a huge difference in whether your employee:

1. Listens to and respects your feedback now and in the future.
2. Stays within your employment.
3. Remains engaged if they stay.

Suggestion – don’t use the phrases:  “It takes time” and “be patient”, as this will only douse the flame of enthusiasm and ambition, and leave you with a disheartened, disengaged employee. You will end up with an employee who believes:
1. You don’t understand their ability.
2. You don’t value their enthusiasm and ambition.
3. Your organization doesn’t provide opportunities for advancement.
4. Growing professionally will require looking for a new job.

You need to first shift your employee from Unconscious Incompetence to Conscious Incompetence.

Unconscious Incompetence is when an employee doesn’t know what she doesn’t know.  She doesn’t realize what knowledge is lacking and still needs to be learned.  She isn’t aware of what necessary skills she doesn’t possess. In other words, as a Manager you need to help your employee develop Conscious Incompetence. Helping your employee develop Conscious Incompetence also stimulates motivation. They now see a gap between where they thought their current ability could take them and their new understanding that it won’t take them to where they want to go.  With this understanding, they’re more open to hearing what they need to do next. This sense of “I don’t know X and I need to know X to get to where I want to go” provides the fuel to power self-directed learning. Therefore, as a manager and coach, you need to make a list of the specific skills and knowledge that your employee doesn’t yet know, but needs to, for them to progress.

  • Give Specific, Crystal-clear Examples
  • Don’t be vague when describing the areas you believe they need to develop.  By being crystal-clear with your feedback, you help the listener feel a sense of control: “Ah … I know what he wants, what he doesn’t want, and what I can do to fix it.”
  • State Explicitly How Much You Value the Employee’s Enthusiasm and Ambition

This approach doesn’t just increase your ability to get commitment to change from your employee, it also helps to build a stronger, more productive relationship. This stronger, more productive relationship will make future conversations easier and more effective. Because they can see you care about them and want to understand their perspective, they will care more about you and your perspective.  Also, because they feel respected, valued, and heard, they will most likely care more about pleasing you in the future.