People don’t do the things they need to

Taking a time out for a quick life hack. I wrote this article for my work and thought you might benefit from it.

People don’t do the things they need to.

You ask your child to take out the trash or clean their room. An employee is asked to change to a new process when they perform a task. You ask your significant other to fill the tank on the car on their way home. They don’t.

There are a few reasons that bubble to the top as to why people do not do what is asked of them even if it is better for everyone that they do the new thing. And I am sorry to say, it is probably your fault. Yes, Your fault. Let’s go through some of the reasons why things just don’t get done and what part of the communications breakdown we are looking at.

They do not understand why they should do it.

Does everyone understand the impact of doing or not doing the task by a specific deadline? You finally got that big client meeting tomorrow. Everything has to go perfect and you do not want to spend time filling the tank when you could focus on preparing or being a little early to the meeting. Did you tell them that? Or did you leave it as “Please fill the tank on the car.”? Explaining when and why you need it done might give the motivation for others to do something needed. Give people the “big picture”.

Another example… Your company has rolled out a new case system. Employees have access to both and although you asked them to use the new system they just still use the old one. What are the benefits of the new system? Why do we have it when the old one works well enough? If you cannot answer these then you will not get buy in for others to use it either.

Unless you just force them. (<- not a great scenario in the long run)

Ever wonder why sometimes an employee will surpass the expectations of a business? It is because they are simply being rewarded. These can be rewards such as more money, peer recognition, a competitive nature, a little time off for family or the odd golf game. The go-getters in an organization are getting what they need and giving back in abundance. Make sure you have talked to your employee and understand what it is that motivates them.

They do not understand how to do it.

Have they been properly trained and comfortable navigating any deviations of how to perform the new task? You had them watch the training video and it isn’t so hard. Is the training video in terms only you understand? Use plain English instead of buzz words.

Did you give them adequate training? Does an employee know they can spellcheck in outlook with a click of a button or are they speed-proof-reading their emails when they send them out to customers… and making the company not look so good in the process? Sometimes people are trying to be efficient and get their jobs done quicker but skipping due diligence. Ensure you have given them the best way to do it for them and not just the best way for you. Make sure they understand the reasons the thing being asked benefits them. It sounds simple enough but is often overlooked.

They do not want to do it.

Is the punishment for doing it wrong larger than the punishment for not doing it at all? All too often you hold those accountable that do it wrong and simply are annoyed with the ones that aren’t even trying. People will almost always go the least painful route given. Sometimes it is as simple as there is no reward for doing something as opposed to not. (Or no punishment for not doing something)

On the other hand, maybe you are making it too easy for them not to. Have you given the same steps several times to someone and they do not seem to get it? Do you micromanage? Will you do it for them if they do not? If you are there to “constantly give them the same steps over and over and they are simply not following a “rinse and repeat” formula” then you will want to look at this one. Maybe the solution is to back away and set the expectation that they will be held accountable from now on.

They can’t do it.

Could it be that you have not given all the tools to do the task? This could be knowledge, access, support, etc. Make sure the person has everything they need to do something. Have they seen it done and do they know how to start? Sometimes people are just missing a piece of the puzzle to get them started or past a hurdle because they have not encountered the situation before.

You child is supposed to take out the trash. They don’t. Do they know that they should take out the bathroom and kitchen trash and empty those into the waste can? Have you shown them where the replacement bags are and the schedule for trash day?


All too often we overlook fully communicating. We are focused on our part of getting something done and forget to manage our expectations to others. Next time you are having trouble with someone not doing something, try ensuring they have all the info. Help others understand why they are being asked, tell them how to do something, help them understand the benefits to everyone and give them all the resources they need to do it.


Jonathan Hamilton

About K0FEY

I am a member of the Eden Prairie Radio club. This is a Minnesota Ham Radio Enthusiast club and we promote experimentation and learning through the Amateur Radio hobby. Come check into a net on Sunday with us or better yet meet us in person on the 3rd Thursday of the month.
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