Darryl Stewart
By Darryl Stewart
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How to crush the spirit of forgetful staff

The pet peeve of many leaders is that staff person who is always forgetting things.

Man scratching his head
Photo by PSyc3330

It can be frustrating when you work hard to manage your own time and on top of that have to do the same for one of your staff who can’t seem to keep themselves organized because they forget things all the time. It is made worse when there are other staff who are great at managing their time and keeping track of their responsibilities. It’s enough to make us wonder why we put up with the forgetful one in the first place.

In our frustration, we often treat the forgetful one as if they are not trying hard enough to remember things.  This is exactly the wrong thing to do.

The research is clear on this.  Memory is a capability and cannot be improved through motivation. If we treat someone as if they need to try harder to remember, we will make the problem worse.  Have you ever run into someone who you know you should know their name and it just won’t come to you, then as soon as they walk away it comes right to you? This is the effect of over-motivation on performance.  It we try too hard, we get worse, not better.

If we coach our staff that they need to try harder to remember things, we are increasing the pressure on them to recall things and they will not improve; they will eventually give up and become completely unmotivated to improve in this area.

With matters of capability, training is the only way to improve things. Those with poor aptitude for recall need to be taught tools and systems to help them remember, and not be beat up for forgetting in the hope that if they just try harder they will start to remember things.

Beating up on the forgetful over being forgetful is like beating up on the musically and artistically inclined child over their lack of capability on the football field. It is wrong and a sure fire way to crush their spirit.