If I were the coach of a basketball team, I’d recruit the best players so we’d win the championship. As a parent I want the best teachers for my kids so they receive a first-rate education. If I had a serious illness, I’d seek out the best doctor because I’d want the best possible outcome. You have to wonder — why would anyone recruit a second-rate athlete, want a teacher who had lost his or her appetite for teaching, or retain an inexperienced doctor for a serious illness? If you went any of these routes, you’d be sabotaging your chances for success.
Along the same lines, if you wanted to buy something, wouldn’t you search for the best product at the least expensive cost? Why would anyone pay top dollar or go out of their way to buy inferior goods? If this premise holds true, why would anyone tolerate mediocrity in their organization? They’d be sabotaging their success.
Is Your Organization Promoting Excellence or Sabotaging Its Success?
Organizations don’t become excellent through magic. Leaders create an environment that’s conducive to excellence. Here are 10 ways you might be sabotaging your organization’s performance. Do these business practices sound familiar?
- Folks get paid for showing up rather than for producing results.
- Who you know becomes more important than what you do.
- Appearance becomes more important than substance.
- Tenure becomes more valued than outcomes.
- Looking busy becomes more important than getting stuff done.
- Performance evaluations are subjective rather than based on objective criteria.
- Everyone is compensated equally, regardless of effort or performance.
- Following the rules becomes more emphasized than doing the right thing.
- People have responsibility, but no one is accountable.
- Poor performance and dead weight are overlooked rather than addressed.
If You Don’t Strive for Excellence, You Won’t Achieve It
Some people say we shouldn’t distinguish between exceptional and mediocre performance — everyone should receive a trophy. While that sounds great in theory, it doesn’t work in practice.
If you want excellence, you have to recognize and reward it. Period. You can’t grant the average employee the same reward as the superstar; you can’t give the mediocre student the same grade as the terrific one; and you can’t award the team that finishes last the same prize as the team that finishes first. Why, you ask? It reduces any incentive to strive for the best, to do your best, or to be the best.
People stop trying when there’s no benefit for being exceptional
and no consequence for being mediocre.
Some people raise the issue of compassion — everyone should benefit equally. Ask yourself, did everyone make an equal investment? Did everyone make an equal effort? Did everyone produce equal results? The reason some folks deserve a greater reward is because they earned it.
You don’t get what you want; you get what you deserve.
Therefore, the answer isn’t giving everyone a trophy regardless of how well they perform; the solution is giving everyone an equal opportunity and providing the tools to achieve success. Everyone is free to decide how hard they’re willing to work and the sacrifices they’re prepared to make to achieve it.
If you’re not willing to make the commitment, don’t complain about the outcome.
This applies to organizations and individuals alike. If you want to achieve excellence, you must strive for it and settle for nothing less. We don’t gain anything by lowering the bar so that everyone can clear it. That breeds mediocrity. There is a difference between winners and losers. In most cases, a winner did everything in their power to achieve success. The loser did not.
When you tolerate mediocrity, you get more of it.
Ask yourself whether you’re more likely to get beaten by your competitors or by yourself? The truth is, your future will be determined more by choice than by chance. Are you sabotaging your success?
Are You Sabotaging Your Success?
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