Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Promoting Mediocrity

All Smiles
Originally uploaded by drewmaniac

Are you promoting mediocrity?

If you have 50 cashiers and 40 have won cashier of the month, does it really matter? Is there any value in handing out an award to a different person every time because “they’ve never got it before”? Did your first 15 cashiers of the month stop doing a good job?

What about those promotions based on seniority? Are you moving your team members into new positions simply because "it's their time"? If someone's time mattered in the grand scheme of things, John McCain would have just been given the presidency.

There comes a point where you can devalue achievement. Giving an award to everyone doesn't typically promote excellence. Promoting those who've simply put in their time doesn't encourage your team to grow. In fact, it usually accomplishes the opposite. Mediocrity becomes the rule of thumb and not the exception. People begin to show up to collect their paycheck and put in their time. After all, there's no hope for a promotion for another 10 years.

Quite frankly, it's not worth the climb. Your best employees will recognize this. The best talent that you could have cultivated into an excellent team won't be around for their time to come. They'll become disgruntled. They'll be unhappy at the slow pace of things. They'll feel slighted or overlooked. As a result, they'll move on.

Then what? Hopefully, you'll enjoy your team of mediocre under achievers.


stan said...

I don't know if you've read it before, but your post immediately made me think of Franky Schaeffer's book Addicted to Mediocrity. It's a great argument for excellence in the Christian world, and it can apply to the secular world as well. We should always give our absolute best!

Danny Brown said...

One thing you don't need to worry about fella, ever, is mediocrity. You paint a very real picture of why so many businesses fail. It's not always through lack of funds or experience; it's through the wrong experience getting the hands on the funds...

Great job, sir!

Chris McDaniel said...

Funny. I distinctly remember standing in a meeting at a former employer, listening to the CEO (with his bowl-cut hairdo,) saying over and over how some employees was "least-best" in a particular category. Couldn't bring himself to use a definitive like "worst", even in a closed-door meeting with only managers present.

The stench of mediocrity was practically overwhelming.

Great post, Weaver. Keep sharpening that horn, Uni.

Andrew Weaver said...

@Stan - I haven't read it, actually, but I may just have to. I agree, we should definitely always be striving for excellence. Leave mediocrity behind.

@Danny - Thanks, man. The picture I painted there comes from experience too, which is sad. I've witnessed it far too often. Especially in large corporations. They seem to be the most susceptible to promotion of mediocrity.

@Chris - I'm debating the wisdom of responding to most of that comment. Ha. :-) But, thanks for the comment. I've been sharpening it a little more often of late.