If you don't have children, you may not get this, but managing employees is a lot like parenting.
I'm not being condescending, but if you're a parent, you will understand the analogy. If you ask your kids to do something, do you assume they'll do it? No way. You have to follow up and make sure they do it right. You're going to have to manage your employee developmental process exactly the same way.
It's never as simple as just saying, "Okay, David, you're hired. Do what I tell you, and things will be great." You have to refine your working relationship with your people as you go along. There is no blueprint for success. You have to find out how to communicate with and motivate each individual. You have to know when a certain employee needs encouragement versus a stern talking to.
A huge part of being a good manager is understanding what buttons to push to get the most out of your employees. You can't expect every employee is going to be a self-starter who does awesome work on his or her own. Sure, it would be great if life operated on that principle, but that's not reality. Your employees need you to watch out for them.
Here's a good rule to manage by: people do what's inspected of them, not what's expected of them.
What does that mean?
If you leave your employees' success up to the expectations you have for them, you're going to be sorely disappointed every time. You have to instill quality-control practices into everything you do, and that goes for managing your employees. You have to train them--then check in with them every step of the way. You have to stay on top of them until you can trust them to do the job themselves--and then you still need to check up on them!
Here's a story from my book, All In, that's a perfect example:
At LendingOne, we built this awesome proprietary algorithm that funnels our leads to the right salesperson based on lead type, geography, and score. I was dinking around the system one day, and I noticed there were a lot of incomplete applications from customers just sitting there in queues. No one had touched them! When I saw this, I said to myself, "If we have their contact information, shouldn't someone be following up with these people?"
So I walked over to my sales manager, Rich, and casually asked, "Did you know we have a ton of leads in the system that have not been followed up on?"
Rich said, "What are you talking about?"
And I said, "Are you going into the system to see what's going on?"
And Rich said, "I'm not a micromanager."
I thought, Really? It looks like you're not even managing.
I eventually would have to fire the guy, but on this day, I took matters into my own hands and did Rich's job for him. I found out what queue the incomplete apps were in, and I emailed the guys who were in charge. I said, "Hey, guys, how are you? Will you do me a favor and check out all the incomplete apps in the queue and see if you can follow up on them?"
I was really cool about it. I never put anybody on the spot. I didn't have to. Sending that email was all it took to get the results I wanted. Those salespeople knew I was watching them, so they had to get working. And they did. I guarantee if I log into the LendingOne system right now, there will not be one untouched lead that's more than an hour old.
See how even the hint of inspection gets people to do their jobs? That's why I'm a big fan of spot-checking people's work--and as a leader, you should be too.