No, I did not intend to write Fax it to me, but exactly as you read it. I explain:
The following took place over a period of a year. Once, while watching a subordinate perform his job in an inappropriate way he noticed the look in my eyes and before I could say anything he prompted: I know how to do it. I did not respond anything, it gave me the impression he meant he would do it right from that moment on.
A few months later while doing the same type of work; the same person who said he knew how to do it was still doing it in that sloppy way. My whole department performance would depend on a few people’s work, including his. I approached him and very succinctly acknowledged the fact that he knew how to do it, but that somehow the results were not showing. He mumbled something and probably was about to reply harsh words, but people around made him think twice. He went to take a break and returned a few minutes later to let me know that he would really care about his job from that moment on, that he really knew how to do it, but realized he was not taking proper care of the process and that it would be different then. Although I sensed a change of attitude, his numbers did not improve much.
Same situation a few months later, however this time I realized although he was paying attention and seemed to be very concerned with the quality of his work, he was struggling to do it properly. I asked him if he had any kind of impediment I should know about to take corrective measures. Despite working under my supervision for almost a year, this time he finally opened up noticing my good intentions and declared in an honest voice: “I know I can do this, give me a chance, I know I can.” I responded I also knew he could, that there was no need for rushing the process, I preferred quality to speed. He discerned I meant it; his shoulders fell in a relaxing way as if a great weight was lift from them. I let him alone for a while. At the end of the project, his numbers were still low.
For the next assignment, he knew I was going to be around and paying very close attention to him and that his job was on the line. A week before the starting day he gave me a brief letter explaining that he knew his performance was not up to par. But in writing he assured me he would do his best and he would do the job the way it was intended to be done.
I gave him a thumb up the next time I saw him and we were set and ready for the best results ever.
During the process, everybody performed excellently; he showed confidence, was very talkative all the time and smiling constantly. When we delivered the project and analyzed numbers; we noticed that many mistakes were made, yes, by him.
He knew that. The following days I prepared a few things to offer: I intended to talk to him simply to propose a change in strategy, suggest perhaps a different position, and offer some training. One day before I could approach him with such ideas, he quit. I never knew from him again.
I’m sure some of us have experienced a similar scenario with not only coworkers or classmates, but even in the family circles. I realized my mistake was not to take more expeditious action and try to correct the problem before it was too late.
However, the lesson learned was that independently of the way people say and promise things, whether with honesty or untruthfulness, intentions alone do not cut it.
The fact that we put something in writing instead of just saying it creates a stronger commitment and message; it assigns some permanency to that promise or obligation. But even so, words continue to be just words.
Do not tell me you know, show me you know.
Do not mention you care, show me you care.
Do not say that you can, prove me you can.
Do not tell me you do, show me you do.
Just the facts.