When a young employee received a negative performance review, the director of human resources expected pushback.

When she arrived at work the next morning, she expected to find a strongly-worded email. She even expected the employee to schedule a meeting with her personally to appeal the review.

It wasn’t unheard of.

What she didn’t expect was to see a man and woman waiting outside her office. When they introduced themselves, she realized whom she was speaking to:

The young employee’s parents.

They’d come to argue about why their son had received a negative performance review.

I didn’t believe the story at first, because it couldn’t be true. But the human resources director said the situation was becoming more and more common.

As young employees begin to enter the workforce, today’s employers are struggling to develop training plans that hold individuals accountable — and teach them to take responsibility for their own performance.

How do you train even your most junior employees to holds themselves accountable and prevent mom and dad from knocking on your door? Here are three points to consider:

1. Start before training begins

Most organizations I speak with are sending an employee into the field to ”learn the ropes,” and they wonder why employees refuse to be held accountable for their performance. Before training even begins, define exactly what the employee should be able to accomplish from the training.

This gives you the opportunity to ensure the training environment is realistic, that the proper amount of time has been set aside for the session, and that you have all the necessary materials and/or training software loaded and ready to go.

2. Create the finish line together

When training junior personnel, start by defining what they’ll be expected to do afterwards and how the job fits into the overall strategy and operations of the company. Let the employee know a certain level of performance is expected and have them acknowledge and agree to achieve it.

Even junior employees can perform to a high standard if you paint a clear picture of what success looks like and they hold themselves accountable for reaching it. If the employee refuses to commit to the goal, re-evaluate the goal to ensure it’s realistic or re-evaluate the employee to ensure they’re right for that position.

3. Training doesn’t stop at the classroom

If your training plan ends when the class does, you’re limiting the potential of your employees. In high-performing organizations, being able to meet the standard is what’s expected.

To be promoted, employees have to continually train and re-train until they surpass the standard. To accomplish this, monitor the metrics that define success and challenge your employees to continually surpass them.

And when you do this, be prepared for all outcomes — because sometimes, you’ll have to do what an employee’s parents refused to do: Teach that junior employee to accept responsibility for his or her own performance.


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