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Problem is not unemployment; it is incompetence

Isa Senkumba

Problem is not unemployment; it is incompetence

Being unemployed is not the problem, the real problem is being an incompetent employee. It is possibly true that our incompetence at the workplace can also cause unemployment. As we look for who to blame for being unemployed let’s ask ourselves the bitter question: Are we competent enough for the few jobs that may be available? Are we good employee material that any employer would wish to have?

The easiest thing that any employer can do is spotting incompetence in the employee. All you have to do is to look for the people who know full well what they need to change about themselves to be more productive but refuse to do so. Let’s admit that we all have flaws and areas in need of improvement. That’s normal and healthy. The irony is that some of us are always reluctant to improve. At times these weaknesses remain for a time in our blind spots, and not celebrating it.

Employees can be fired during their careers for a number of reasons, including dishonesty, bad behavior and incompetence. There are a number of reasons why employers view a worker as incompetent, even if the employee is trying hard. Some causes of incompetence you can avoid, while others you can’t. Understanding what causes a boss to view you as incompetent will help you improve your skills or change your behavior before you are fired.

Incompetence means different things to different people, but generally it denotes the inability to do a job to a satisfactory standard. If an employee completes a task on time, without errors and the way he was asked to do the work, the employee is considered competent. If the final product goes beyond what was asked of the employee, the employee is more than competent. Indicators of incompetence include work being submitted late, over budget, with errors or requiring considerable help from others.

Laziness is a common cause of incompetence as it leads to errors, lateness and other problems. Failure to double check your work is a sign of incompetence, since anyone can do that. If you include typos in written communication, these can lead to making your company look unprofessional or can cause other departments to make mistakes. Not bothering to check the status of a project you are managing or not asking for commitments in writing are other examples of sloppiness and carelessness, since you can easily do these.

Incompetence is also seen when an employee lacks good communication skills.  Just because you give someone instructions doesn’t mean you have done your job. A competent employee asks coworkers or clients if they received the message, if they understand it and if they can meet the request. Waiting until the deadline to learn that a project won’t be delivered is another form of incompetence.  You ought to check in with key stakeholders during the course of a project to evaluate its status. If you are not able to properly and clearly communicate your thoughts to your superiors’ instructions to others, leading to problems at work, you are not competent to work with others, no matter how good your intentions.

In today’s competitive business environment employees need to have people skills to be able to attract and keep customers. This is the only way you can stay in business. If you are tactless, overbearing, rude, unclear, upset or don’t inspire confidence in the people with whom you work, you won’t be competent to work in sales or management positions. Driving away a key employee because you only point out their faults and never praise them is an example of managerial incompetence. Trying to acquire a potential customer by telling them they are doing something wrong and making them feel stupid is another example of incompetence.

Competent employees always seek further training to equip themselves with new skills.  You may be given a task for which you have no training or experience. For example, an excellent salesperson can be promoted to a sales manager position, coordinating the activities of the sales department. If that person has no experience creating departmental budgets, setting sales goals, determining prices based on a company’s costs and the market demand and supply, designing commission plans, developing sales materials and otherwise operating as a manager, such a person is likely to fail.  Being vigilant and interested in further studies and training is a good virtue for any employee.

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