What is preventing us from achieving a new level of performance?
What’s blocking us from taking charge of our future and accomplishing what others believe is impossible?
Far too many leaders are willing to make excuses for the poor performance of their employees. They train and train, spend money on more and more resources and lose their minds when there is no improvement in performance and results actually get worse instead of better.
They entertain employees’ excuses and reasons for poor performance and continue to pay these employees at the end of each month. Your employees may not SAY this to you directly but they’re probably thinking “If there are no consequences for my behaviour [sure you might suspend me, put warning letters on my file, or even threaten to fire me] – but if I continue to get paid (rewarded for my bad behaviour) at the end of every fortnight/month – why should I change?”
Too many of us lead our lives in pretty much the same way. We become complacent, and lazy. Even though we know we’re capable of more we do the minimum to get by. We make excuses for our substandard performance and blame everyone else but our selves.
What happens when we ignore unproductive behaviour in our businesses?
In all my years of working with small businesses, I’ve seen only one business owner demonstrate the courage to have difficult conversations with her employees. When was the last time you had a difficult conversation with an employee or put an issue on the table that made everyone uncomfortable? What important conversations have you been postponing or unwilling to have?
These are situations where unproductive behaviour is banned in PRINCIPLE but tolerated in PRACTICE. Many business owners and leaders will express to me quite vehemently what they will and will not tolerate, but the proof of the pudding is always in the “eating.” Actions speak WAY louder than words. Raised voices and expressions of discontent do nothing if you continue to tolerate/accept subpar behaviour. Dr. Loretta Malandro, author of Fearless Leadership warns “Without knowing it, you may be endorsing a behavioural standard that is undermining your leadership effectiveness and eating away at organizational performance.”
In our own lives, our unproductive behaviour parades as excuses. Rich Schefren says “The costliest words you’ll ever utter are the excuses you use to rationalize not doing the things that must be done. You might not be aware of them right now, because they may seem to be accurate and rational in the moment. But upon reflection, you’ll see them for what they really are: Excuses that allow you to stay inside your comfort zone.”
Common excuses include things like…
“I’m too tired to work on this right now. I’ll do it tomorrow when I feel better…”
“Before I can start I need…”
“It’s too important to get this right. I need to talk to ___ before I go further…”
“I’ve done enough already today…”
You’ve tried various methods I’m sure to change people so I’m certain that you will agree that those strategies DID NOT WORK! You can’t change how people behave with mandates, slogans or programs-of-the-month. No amount of cajoling, persuading or threatening will alter what people do.
What’s limiting your performance and the performance of those on your team goes a whole lot deeper!
Whether you are self sabotaging your own efforts or leading a team of people who you believe to be inadequate, insufficient or not committed there is only one way to turn things around.
Start by acknowledging:
- That your business and life are perfectly designed for the results you’re getting right now.
- If your performance is lagging and your business is struggling then YOU are definitely involved!
If you’re not experiencing the booming success you want, then something’s holding you back – either a physical constraint, a logical constraint or both. When you can’t identify, or don’t know what those constraints are, then nothing can be addressed. You will continue to do what you’ve always done and the world will compensate accordingly by either working around you or avoiding you altogether.
Putting up with inconsistent and low standards of behaviour impedes your effectiveness and thwarts any kind of change. If you are tolerating something, chances are you are either unaware that you have accepted subpar behaviour or you are resigned that you cannot influence the change that is needed. According to Dr. Malandro, if you continue to look for change in all the wrong places this will lead to:
- Misdiagnosing your issues and the issues of those you lead
- Costly and ineffective business solutions, that is, process and system changes that do not resolve the underlying issues
- An inconsistent leadership approach that lacks standardization and uniformity about how people are expected to behave.
If you want to turn things around you’re going to have to do 3 things:
- Take responsibility for the results you’re currently producing
- Get help in identifying the root of what’s causing your substandard performance and
- Willingly acknowledge that you’ve been on the wrong path BEFORE you can begin to turn things around.
If not, you will continue to get what you’re getting…or what you choose to tolerate.