Think about it. How many employees fly under the radar doing just enough to meet the requirements of the job? How many long-time customers did you suddenly lose this year? How often do you see a dip or lull after a really successful period or outstanding performance? How happy are you with the creativity and innovation levels on your team? How engaged is your staff?
If people have stopped going the extra mile and if they seem totally content with the status quo, their complacency could be hurting your organization. The good news is that complacency often comes after some success, and people feel comfortable and confident enough to stop trying so hard. The bad news is that it can keep you from being successful in the future because people stop aiming for bigger, better things.
Don’t let that happen. Battle complacency in your workplace. Here are six steps to help you shake things up a bit:
- Recognize it. You have to acknowledge that complacency exists in order to address it. Take an honest look at both your and employees’ habits, attitudes and actions. Are you taking the little things for granted? Are you doing less of the things that led to past successes? Are you all operating on auto pilot?
- Put it in context. Complacency won’t likely occur until you have had some success, so recognize and celebrate the success first. Then challenge your employees to step it up and work hard so that you can experience more success. Help them remember what it feels like to win. When they can emotionally connect to that feeling, you can use that to ward off complacency and focus them on the next achievement.
- Set new goals. You should always be working toward a new goal, even after you just met one. Shortly after celebrating your success, work with your team to set new goals. Make sure the new goals are challenging enough to inspire and motivate employees to keep striving for more.
- Keep your purpose clear. Goals are great, but it is the underlying purpose, or the reason the goal matters, that will truly drive discipline and performance. Regularly remind people of your purpose, and tell them how new goals and projects align with that purpose. Explain why their work matters and it will be more meaningful to them.
- Create healthy competition. Human beings love competition, both against themselves and others, and you can combat complacency with a healthy dose of creative competition. Create ways to help people compete against themselves or against the goals they surpassed last year. Allow teams to compete (though not in a destructive or disabling way) with each other in seeking common goals. Define an outside competitor as the source of your energy and effort.
- Remember history and human nature. History shows that complacency is a part of the human condition. Recognizing that helps you deal with it personally and as a team or organization. However, when you feel it or see it, don’t resort to guilt or blame. Instead, acknowledge it, and use your mental and emotional energy to focus on overcoming it instead of stressing out about it.
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