Mostly true. Sure, there’s the odd malcontent who’s mad at the world and wants to challenge authority, but as a rule, people really do want to do what’s expected of them. When they don’t perform as expected, there are generally two reasons, both of which are failures of management.
The first failure is we tried to put a round peg in a square hole. We placed someone in a role where s/he couldn’t be successful. Maybe the person didn’t have the right skills, talents, experience or personality for the job we put them in. And why would we do that? Sometimes because we’re desperate to fill a position and we think someone in that job is better than no one. Faulty logic. If the job is too important to be left vacant, then it’s too important to be done badly. Or we’ve got an opening, we like to promote from within, and we’ve got a loyal, veteran employee who we think deserves a shot at it. More faulty logic. Why reward an employee’s loyalty and hard work by putting him or her in a no-win situation?
The second failure is one of communication. Management has one picture of what a good job looks like, but unfortunately, the employee responsible for doing that job has a completely different picture. For instance, the employee knows that on-time delivery is very important to the company and spares no effort to get the product shipped as quickly as possible. S/he doesn’t understand that quality is an even higher priority with the company and that quality trumps on-time delivery. Seems like this sort of miscommunication shouldn’t happen, but it does. All the time.
The message here is this: when you have an under performing or poorly performing employee, don’t jump to the conclusion that you have a bad apple. Start with the notion that the employee wants to do a good job, but something is getting in the way. Then check to make sure s/he is fully qualified to do the job well and that s/he understands clearly what a good job looks like.