I am currently reading the book Integrity by Dr. Henry Cloud for an online leadership course, and in it he makes an observation that makes so much sense in the workplace: in order to get results in the real world, we have to focus on the way the world is, not the way we think it ought to be. In other words, in assessing our current performance, we have to measure it against real expectations (reality), not the way we wish it was (fantasy).
Over the years I’ve had many employees tell me things like “if only my goals were different I’d be a star,” or “the reason my numbers are low is that I’m focusing on service,” or “I’m generating millions in revenue for the company, I can’t believe you’re hung up on my attendance.” In each of those cases the employee is trying to turn their job into something it’s not, imposing their ideas about what the job ought to be onto the way it actually is. And the problem in each case is that real issues never get taken seriously by the employees because they want to pretend those issues shouldn’t matter. This undoubtedly frustrates both them and their supervisors as they each spin their wheels trying to fix two different problems.
Don’t be afraid to splash a little cold water on someone who might need it.