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Why Being Good at Your Job Doesn’t Make You a Good Employee
by Glenn Shepard
March 22, 2016

Category:  Careers & Management



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Dear Glenn,

I work at a physical therapy clinic with only 2 employees besides the owner. The other employee does just what needs to be done to get by. I’m going on vacation and when I told her I at least needed her to do the insurance billing while I’m gone, she said she was hoping the owner's wife would come in and do it. She reluctantly told me to teach her the "bare minimum... I don't want to know how to do that job." I’m really getting tired of this attitude. She is doing sub-par work even though she thinks she is working herself to death. What can I do till then?

Sandy in Arkansas

Dear Sandy,

One of the paradoxes of personal growth is that most people think they’re doing the most they can do because none of us know what we’re capable of until we reach our limit. Most of us don’t reach our limit are until something or someone pushes us to that limit. Ask someone who has 5 kids and they’ll tell you 5 is the most they can handle. But if you ask someone who has 6, they’ll tell you 6 is their limit. And so on.

Your boss needs to have one of those “Come to Jesus” meetings with this employee and explain that in a practice that size, everyone will always be expected to do more than they think they’re capable of doing – but will never be given more than they can handle. She’ll give him pushback, but she’ll also be amazed when she discovers how much more she’s capable of being.

Thanks for your question.

Glenn in Nashville, TN

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Most of the articles you read in this weekly column are geared toward management. This one is geared toward non-management employees, so that you as a manager can pass this around to those who need to hear it.

Managers who’ve attended my seminars from California to New York and just about everywhere in between tell me about someone who’s a hard worker and good employee, but makes life miserable for their coworkers and their boss.

These managers are mistaken.

Someone who’s good at what they do is not a good employee; they’re only a good worker. In order to be a good employee, they must have at least three qualities – regardless of what field they’re in.

1. They Must Be Good At What They Do
This is the obvious part that both management and non-management understand. No matter how likable, dependable, or hard-working someone is, they won’t be a good employee if they’re not good at performing the actual job. But this is only part of the equation, and it’s the next two parts that so many people miss.

2. They Must “Play Well With Others”
Even kindergartners get graded on how well they get along with others, but most adults don’t. This is odd because we as managers are constantly preaching the importance of teamwork, but all too often put up with “Lone Rangers” who work well independently but can tick off every single person who’s ever worked with them. It’s like these people just say things in a way that makes others want to hurt them. They’re not bad people; they’re just miserable people to work around.

3. They Must Be (Reasonably) Easy to Manage
There are also people who are good at what they do, and get along with their coworkers, but suck up so much of the manager’s time and energy that managing them is almost a full-time job. These folks are good workers and good team players, but they’re not good employees. Everyone’s time is valuable, but managers’ time is especially valuable since they have to divide it between multiple employees. The more of a manager’s time an employee takes up, the further they move from being an asset to the company and the closer they come to being a liability.

In order to be a good employee, all three of these qualities must describe you.


To Your Success,



Glenn Shepard


P.S. This was excerpted from Glenn’s new employee training DVD set. Click here to preview it for free.


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