Get in touch

Why Can’t They Just Blimmin’ Well Do It!

“Why can’t they just blimmin’ well do it!”

How many times have you heard this or said it yourself? Or maybe a few other expletives are used when you vent to yourself. Be honest. We’ve all said this about someone. A friend. A partner. A colleague at work. They are driving you mad. Not doing what they should be doing, even when it’s blatantly obvious and common sense to the rest of the world. You’re at your wits end and can’t understand why the person is not doing what you expect of them.

What if I said I have the answer to this and it’s simple? Would this be useful?

First, I want you to think of a situation where someone is not doing what you expect of them. A work colleague, a partner, one of your children maybe? Who is it? What are they not doing, that you expect them to do? Get a mental image of what you expect and what is currently happening. Got the person in your mind?

Take a little time to think

The solution is a 4-stage process known as the 4 C’s (which we use in our leadership development programme’s). It’s great for people who are struggling with delegating or getting people to do the things that you expect.

All you need to do is to follow the 4C’s in order and don’t move on from each stage until you are confident that you have addressed that stage with the person in mind.

1. CLARITY. Does the person in mind understand what is expected? Have you effectively communicated the outcome you expect in a way that they can understand? This is different to telling people what to do and how to do it. By providing the outcome and not the ‘how’, you are allowing people the autonomy to deliver the outcome in their own way. All you need from them is the outcome or result, i.e. a tidy bedroom, 100 widgets made today, or actively listen to other people. When you are confident that your communication is crystal clear, and the person you are thinking of has fed back to you in a way that you know they understand, you can move to the next stage. Tick. Clarity of outcome is clear and has been fed back by the person in mind. Important Note: Only telling people what you don’t want does not count. You need to be clear as to what is expected. Not just what you don’t expect; “your room is a mess”, “only 80 widgets again”, or “stop talking over people”.

2. CAPACITY. Does the person have the will to do what you need? You may refer to this as attitude, mindset or will. Are they aligned with the values of the team and the business? Behavioural and attitude issues should be dealt with as a priority, as a wrong fit person in the team can suck the mood out of any room. When you are dealing with a behavioural misalignment that is clearly communicated and not being displayed by the person, you may have someone who is not aligned with the values of the business. This should be managed in the same way as a competency gap. Invest in the person to close the gap and do what you can to support and help them. If you are happy that they have the capacity, you can move to the next stage. Tick. They have the will and attitude needed to deliver what is expected. Important Note: It may be fatigue or stress that is causing a problem for the person in mind. You will need to explore and gather your evidence. Speak to the person in mind and listen to what is holding them back?

3. COMPETENCE. Does the person have the knowledge and skill to deliver the result? Has the person got the sufficient experience and training to deliver what you need? Similarly to the above, competence also needs to be clear. We need our teams to have clear roles and responsibilities. We need them to know what knowledge, skills and attitude are expected to fulfill the role. And most importantly, where there are gaps, we support the person in the best way we can in developing them to being fully competent. (Not telling tales behind their backs when they can’t do something). Once you are comfortable that you have done everything you can to develop the person and this is not a competence issue, you can move to the next stage. Tick. You have sufficiently invested in developing the person in line with their learning needs and style. Important Note: In a high growth business, developing the competence of your team in line, or ideally ahead of the needs of the business is essential.

4. CONDUCT. Is the person choosing not to do what is needed? If the first 3 stages have been fulfilled, you are dealing with a conduct issue. It is clear what is expected. They are fully competent. They have the capacity. They have just chosen not to do it. So, for a conduct issue you will need to follow your own internal performance management procedure. But, as you have followed all the stages above, you will have all the evidence to support a clear and transparent process. Important Note: Take the time to understand why the person has chosen to not behave in line with what is expected. It could be a learning opportunity.

The Most Common Pitfalls

I hope this helps to clarify where you are with your current person in mind and situation. In most cases we are not dealing with a conduct issue. The most common pitfalls are:

· We don’t ask people to feedback when we have communicated with them, therefore, we don’t really know whether they have understood our communication on what is expected. A couple of great ways to avoid this are, asking the person to relay what you explained to them and good visual management. You get good insight into your own communication from the feedback and total transparency with good visuals.
· We don’t have clear roles and responsibilities for people that are regularly reviewed. In my experience 95% of people do what they believe is the right thing, but sometimes don’t understand their role in helping the business achieve its vision.
· We don’t have clear values and behaviours that define the cultural expectation. A huge opportunity for most businesses and their employees. My advice would be to include behavioural competence in your role profiles and hold regular 1-2-1’s with your team. A poor attitude will rot the culture more than a skills issue in most circumstances.
· People in our teams reach capacity and don’t delegate. The 4 C’s above not only apply to you but to everyone in the business. All your managers need to follow the above 4 stages with their own teams and start to delegate more. In a growing business it is inevitable that you will have more to do. Get the team working smarter not harder.
· We don’t tackle behaviour and attitude issues. I would say that this is the most common pitfall. We choose to do nothing. Doing something about people issues takes courage. Put your big boys/girls pants on have the conversation.

Quick Recap

Follow the 4 C’s in order with the person you are thinking of:
1. CLARITY – Does the person in mind understand what is expected?
2. CAPACITY – Does the person have the will to do what you need?
3. COMPETENCE – Does the person have the knowledge and skill to deliver the result?
4. CONDUCT – Is the person choosing not to do what is needed?


This article was written by the Founder & Managing Director of the Manufacturers Alliance, Gary Sheader. Gary is keen to help business owners and managers in the manufacturing sector break through the boundaries of possibility and ensure the sector thrives throughout the 21st century. He sees inspiring leadership as key to this and loves to help people grow to become the best version of themselves, and beyond.