28
May
09

When “not good enough” becomes the norm

good-enough3

Every business has imbedded patterns of behavior that interfere with performance, quality and growth. And yes, these patterns of behavior often cause the business to wander from one challenge or crisis to another. It’s when projects never get completed, goals are routinely missed and that grand vision of a world-class company slips quietly into an elusive dream. To help leaders understand why their businesses are stuck, I respectfully tell them, “You have accepted ‘not good enough” to become the norm in your company.” For some reason, this statement seems to hit the right chord. It’s like defining a company’s mission as “the relentless pursuit of mediocrity.”
What leader would want mediocrity as a goal? The sad truth is … many do – not by stated intent, but through their behavior and thinking. Addressing “not good enough” means taking action and holding everyone, including the leader, accountable for functioning as a world-class company. Complacency, procrastination and fear of rocking the boat set a high tolerance for “not good enough.” And just like failure to stick to a diet or fitness routine, “not good enough” becomes the norm. It becomes an accepted behavior pattern. And it kills companies.
If your business has the telltale signs that “not good enough” has become the norm, consider these no-compromise strategies to make “being the best” your company’s battle cry:
    *
      You must change first: Leaders set the behaviors, thinking, pace and rhythm of a company culture. Don’t expect others to lift up the company and rise to the challenge if you don’t change first. You need to set the example first. You must demonstrate your determination first. No more excuses. No more procrastination.
    *
      Identify what you’ve been tolerating or avoiding: Chances are it’s a rather short list that includes holding yourself and others accountable, lack of planning and communication. And don’t forget those infamous crucial conversations that are long overdue. You never rid your company of mediocrity by avoiding the tough conversations.
    *
      Cheerlead your “be-the-best” change initiative: You can’t change a lethargic culture with one grand announcement at a meeting. Change initiatives require an enormous flow of information and performance data. Daily huddles, victory rallies, one-on-one reviews, coaching and mentoring – all systems must be fully tuned and functioning.
    *
      Set a six-month Phase One target: Most culture shifts crash and burn in the first three to four months. By making the first six months your focus for pushing major change, you’ll be pushing your company through the hazardous “crash and burn” period. Phase Two will be the lock-in phase for new behaviors and higher levels of performance.
It’s so easy to become accustomed to mediocre performance because taking action requires you and your company to get “uncomfortable.” As the old saying goes, “no pain – no gain.” Be the best. NoEvery business has imbedded patterns of behavior that interfere with performance, quality and growth. And yes, these patterns of behavior often cause the business to wander from one challenge or crisis to another. It’s when projects never get completed, goals are routinely missed and that grand vision of a world-class company slips quietly into an elusive dream. To help leaders understand why their businesses are stuck, I respectfully tell them, “You have accepted ‘not good enough” to become the norm in your company.” For some reason, this statement seems to hit the right chord. It’s like defining a company’s mission as “the relentless pursuit of mediocrity.”

What leader would want mediocrity as a goal? The sad truth is … many do – not by stated intent, but through their behavior and thinking. Addressing “not good enough” means taking action and holding everyone, including the leader, accountable for functioning as a world-class company. Complacency, procrastination and fear of rocking the boat set a high tolerance for “not good enough.” And just like failure to stick to a diet or fitness routine, “not good enough” becomes the norm. It becomes an accepted behavior pattern. And it kills companies.

If your business has the telltale signs that “not good enough” has become the norm, consider these no-compromise strategies to make “being the best” your company’s battle cry:

    *
      You must change first: Leaders set the behaviors, thinking, pace and rhythm of a company culture. Don’t expect others to lift up the company and rise to the challenge if you don’t change first. You need to set the example first. You must demonstrate your determination first. No more excuses. No more procrastination.
    *
      Identify what you’ve been tolerating or avoiding: Chances are it’s a rather short list that includes holding yourself and others accountable, lack of planning and communication. And don’t forget those infamous crucial conversations that are long overdue. You never rid your company of mediocrity by avoiding the tough conversations.
    *
      Cheerlead your “be-the-best” change initiative: You can’t change a lethargic culture with one grand announcement at a meeting. Change initiatives require an enormous flow of information and performance data. Daily huddles, victory rallies, one-on-one reviews, coaching and mentoring – all systems must be fully tuned and functioning.
    *
      Set a six-month Phase One target: Most culture shifts crash and burn in the first three to four months. By making the first six months your focus for pushing major change, you’ll be pushing your company through the hazardous “crash and burn” period. Phase Two will be the lock-in phase for new behaviors and higher levels of performance.

It’s so easy to become accustomed to mediocre performance because taking action requires you and your company to get “uncomfortable.” As the old saying goes, “no pain – no gain.” Be the best. No compromise.”
 compromise.”

Every business has imbedded patterns of behavior that interfere with performance, quality and growth. And yes, these patterns of behavior often cause the business to wander from one challenge or crisis to another. It’s when projects never get completed, goals are routinely missed and that grand vision of a world-class company slips quietly into an elusive dream. To help leaders understand why their businesses are stuck, I respectfully tell them, “You have accepted ‘not good enough” to become the norm in your company.” For some reason, this statement seems to hit the right chord. It’s like defining a company’s mission as “the relentless pursuit of mediocrity.”

What leader would want mediocrity as a goal? The sad truth is … many do – not by stated intent, but through their behavior and thinking. Addressing “not good enough” means taking action and holding everyone, including the leader, accountable for functioning as a world-class company. Complacency, procrastination and fear of rocking the boat set a high tolerance for “not good enough.” And just like failure to stick to a diet or fitness routine, “not good enough” becomes the norm. It becomes an accepted behavior pattern. And it kills companies.

If your business has the telltale signs that “not good enough” has become the norm, consider these no-compromise strategies to make “being the best” your company’s battle cry:

  • You must change first: Leaders set the behaviors, thinking, pace and rhythm of a company culture. Don’t expect others to lift up the company and rise to the challenge if you don’t change first. You need to set the example first. You must demonstrate your determination first. No more excuses. No more procrastination.
  • Identify what you’ve been tolerating or avoiding: Chances are it’s a rather short list that includes holding yourself and others accountable, lack of planning and communication. And don’t forget those infamous crucial conversations that are long overdue. You never rid your company of mediocrity by avoiding the tough conversations.
  • Cheerlead your “be-the-best” change initiative: You can’t change a lethargic culture with one grand announcement at a meeting. Change initiatives require an enormous flow of information and performance data. Daily huddles, victory rallies, one-on-one reviews, coaching and mentoring – all systems must be fully tuned and functioning.
  • Set a six-month Phase One target: Most culture shifts crash and burn in the first three to four months. By making the first six months your focus for pushing major change, you’ll be pushing your company through the hazardous “crash and burn” period. Phase Two will be the lock-in phase for new behaviors and higher levels of performance.

It’s so easy to become accustomed to mediocre performance because taking action requires you and your company to get “uncomfortable.” As the old saying goes, “no pain – no gain.” Be the best. No compromise.”

Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends. They’ll appreciate it.

Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO, and author of No-Compromise Leadership
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