At Inner Circle this morning, a member brought up the issue of a poorly performing employee. Early on in presenting the facts of the situation, he made a key comment about the situation, “I think we created this situation.”

While discussing the situation, we all clearly agreed that the employee in question, a manager, was performing poorly, and also exhibiting some questionable behavior. But I had to ask, “Why do you think you created the situation?”

What came out was that it was a sudden change in performance. And he had doubts about the sudden change. He wondered why we didn’t notice this sooner, and why she hadn’t learned the ropes better before this sudden change. And he wondered whether her supervisor had done the necessary job of preparing her and coaching her to success.

We decided that he needed to ask his supervisor to consider this a case study, to look at what could have been done to avoid or improve the situation sooner. To do some introspection to improve things and prevent the situation from happening again.

I particularly like this takeaway. Of course he is going to make sure the questionable behavior on the manager’s part is addressed. But he is also making sure the supervisor is taking responsibility for his part of the equation. It’s a learning opportunity. And he is setting what Jim Collins would call a “Level Five” leadership example.

Do you ask yourself what part you had in creating the situation? You should in all poor performance situations.