Four Employee Quadrants

Each employee’s specific tasks can be plotted on the Skill / Will Matrix which results in a plot in one of four quadrants. Depending on the plot location in a quadrant can provide guidance for a manager to adjust their management style. Ultimately the employee’s chance for success in completing a task can increase.

Each of the four quadrants is labeled (bottom left = Direct/Supervise, top left = Excite, bottom right = Guide, and top right = Delegate). Here are some suggested approaches a manager can consider to help their employee to improve task performance.

Direct/Supervise:

These employees have low skill and low will to perform a task. If you were choosing which to address first (either Skill or Will) which would you address with the employee first? Great, you selected Will (even if you didn’t select Will, let’s say you did because I know how smart you are).

You probably selected to address an employee’s Will first because unless you address an employee’s Will to complete a task, rarely will providing any skill development improve Will. However, the other way around, as an employee’s Will increases, their ability to apply any new skills they have developed compounds.

With low Will and low Skill, you will need to give specific direction and give extensive follow-up until they are able to increase their skill and will. Employees with higher skill and will might describe this as micro-managing, and in their case (which is different from a low will and low skill case) it is micro-managing.

As you might imagine, employees in the Direct/Supervise quadrant can’t live here for very long. They need to be able to increase their skill and will or they may be in the wrong role.

Excite:

These employees have high skill but low will to perform a task. Like in Direct/Supervise, a manager needs to address the employee’s will. Through conversations (or maybe several conversations) the manager needs to identify why the employee has low will to perform the task. There are endless reasons that may not be apparent to the manager. Take this on cautiously as the reason for the employee’s will could be something unrelated to work or their job.

A manager may need to give the employee something to get excited about. It may need more conversation about why the task is important, or what completing the task does to the next step of the process, or how completing the task helps another co-worker or department.

Provide feedback to the employee especially when their progress toward performing the task is going well. This is a manager’s opportunity to reinforce the employee’s behavior and develop a sense of pride in their work. Success at this can improve an employee’s will.

Guide:

These employees have high will but low skill to perform a task. The great news is that the employee is motivated to do the task. Managers can develop skills and experience in these employees by providing training and guidance through coaching. A manager can provide access to employees in the Delegate quadrant who can mentor them.

Employees in Guide should be provided low-risk tasks. Low-risk tasks can be a great opportunity to learn from mistakes. If the employee is successful, then it can be a demonstration of ability. If they are unsuccessful, there are opportunities to learn (which is one of the best ways to learn).

Delegate:

These employees have high skill and high will. This is the quadrant you are moving all your employees toward.

A manager can give these employees greater autonomy and authority to make their own decisions. These employees are great mentors to other staff and because of their high skill and high will, they appreciate an opportunity to mentor others. These employees can also accept greater responsibility and less manager involvement. Managers should consider these employees as a resource in decision-making. Involve these employees in organizational decision-making.

The last several blog posts have been all about determining leadership and management style to fit an employee’s skill and will. If you have not read the earlier posts, I encourage you to so. I hope that you find this to be an effective tool to help you in your leadership and management of others.

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“Adjusting Your Leadership to Four Types of Employees”

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