Over the years, I’ve learned that sales teams need to stop worrying about the quota and start worrying about how many people they could help and how many lives they could change. But the same concept applies as well to your employees. Once you make the mental shift from making sales – to changing people’s lives, including your team members – I guarantee sales numbers will go through the roof. In this blog, my very good friend Alejandro Beauroyre, a professional sales expert with more than 30 years of experience, outlines the best practices to shift from a disengaged team to an All-Star team.
The title surely caught your attention, and that is exactly the aim. I intend for this article to open your eyes so that you can see what may be happening inside your company. I can assure you that right now within your company, there are people who have adopted a “don’t give a shit attitude” and are affecting both the operations, employees, and other elements of the company.
Let’s start by analyzing the information that Gallup publishes:
Gallup’s estimate of North American companies is as follows: 51% of employees are disinterested or disengaged, 13% are totally disinterested and without any motivation in the organization and their work, being themselves unhappy and causing headaches to the organization for their poor performance and the contamination they carry out with other employees. The figures are worrying; 64% of the workforce lack interest, are not concentrated and committed to their productivity and the company’s well-being.
Harvard Business Review published in May 2020 that globally only 13% of employees are connected and committed to their work. In the United States alone, the economic loss is estimated at 500 billion dollars annually due to employees’ lack of commitment and productivity. The study concludes by saying that for every $10,000 you pay in wages, $3,800 is lost due to lack of productivity.
The same report demonstrates that companies that manage to have and keep their employees under a high level of productivity and commitment have 21% more profit.
Under these figures, the conclusion has become quite obvious. Having a motivated and committed staff of employees should be prioritized as it will; increase productivity, profits and create happier customers. Otherwise, I am sorry to say, but it will not take long for your company to have major problems or disappear. My intention with this article is to analyze and explore; what is causing your employees to become disinterested, lose the desire to work, and excel inside your company.
It is under the following sentence and the shocking truth it conveys in so few words, that I will begin.
“What you allow is what will continue to happen.”
If you allow your company to have people who show disinterest, lack of productivity, bad attitude and are a bad example for others, consider and contemplate that all of this is happening because you allow it. That is the simple truth; employees become disengaged because the company provides a space that will enable it, thus allowing this attitude to grow and become the natural way of operating within the company.
I will share a series of reflections that will hopefully lead you to the most appropriate answer about avoiding or eradicating the “don’t give a shit” attitude.
As a business, we seek to be successful. Excellence is one of our main goals in life, so why does it happen that we so often find ourselves losing our way? The excellence with which we started and motivated us fades over time, and mediocre actions and statements emerge. Such as:
“I know it could be better, the quality level is passable, more or less I understand, we no longer deliver on time but …, it is difficult for me to trust my team, I feel that I am alone and nobody supports me, I am tired of calling their attention, they are not interested, I catch them lying constantly”.
I could continue with the descriptions of events and circumstances that you most likely have been through many times and probably are experiencing today. Still, the important point is that all of the excuses can quickly become a license for us not to give our best, find faults in others, and not focus on building a better company or becoming a better manager or boss. At what point did mediocrity take over our imagination and our dreams? At what point did our potential diminish and remain that way to become our constant reality?
The answer is hard to accept, but it is in the moment that we allowed it.
We often allow mediocrity to creep into our lives, conditioning us to lower our expectations and lower our standards. There are innumerable factors, internal and external, that lead us to blind ourselves and not observe the reality. The truth is that we measure excellence by how we choose to use the opportunities we have every day to impact and create more of a difference, to do our work the best we can whenever and wherever we are.
At one point in our lives, we have all installed ourselves in that place of disconnection and “don’t give a shit attitude.” However, the real problem arises when this attitude prevails and becomes the norm. An addiction that paralyzes us and convinces us to ignore the signs that warned us that the status quo is getting away with it. This leads us to abdicate the responsibility to take the initiative to promote the positive change that we want in our environment.
Remember, mediocrity occurs when we refuse to change and improve everything we do.
On the other hand, excellence occurs when you deliberately try to transform everything you touch to make it better than when you found it. This, of course, requires you to extend yourself regularly beyond your limits; it demands that you move outside the box and access the leader within you. Obviously, this will not happen by accident. It must be intentionally and actively enforced. It takes time, it takes effort, and it is, above all, not easy.
People led by a mediocre leader produce mediocre results because a space for them to work with minimal effort and just barely to meet the requirements is available and open. Working without motivation and lack inspiration to go further. According to Harvard Business Review, employee disengagement from their companies represents 87% of the workforce worldwide.
Thus, we must actively and strongly question ourselves, our role, and our presence to recognize that this situation prevails because someone is allowing it.
I have concluded that this disengagement and its reality emerges and is a problem of management, leadership, and lack of capacity to develop the necessary skills to channel and boost the team’s lack of motivation.
I would like to center your attention and focus on giving you tips to improve your ability to collaborate with disconnected employees.
I’ll start with you, the boss. It is necessary to ask yourself the following:
- Do you measure yourself with the same yardstick that you measure your team?
- Do you demand excellence when you don’t give it?
It is not valid to demand accountability and high performance if you are not carrying it out. How do you react when you realize that your work leaves a lot to be desired and does not reach the expected level? Look around and ask, are you boycotting yourself by hiring mediocre elements for fear that hiring good talent might put your position at risk?
It is time to dust off the self-criticism and remove the mask so that you can authentically and constructively reflect on who you are and what those fears are. Mediocrities do not allow you to demand excellence in yourself.
How I learned to deal with mediocrity.
Working with multiple companies and accumulating experience does not make me any more special or immune to mediocrity. Yes, I have my episodes of mediocrity, laziness, and procrastination. What I have learned from myself is that when I seek to improve or do a better job, I immediately feel a feeling of discomfort and an urge to try to finish as quickly as possible because I am aware that doing a job of excellence is going to take a greater effort, more time, more research. Sitting at the computer for longer than is appropriate means more physical pain, probably having conversations that I don’t want to have, and I find myself with less time to do other things that I like better.
I learned to understand that this discomfort is my alarm to realize that the time to push myself to do my job better has come. For me, this is the right moment to give that extra. Doing so will surely differentiate me from others and place me in an advantageous situation in front of my clients, bringing only positive results.
I must admit that it is not easy to deal with the situation of feeling uncomfortable. But here lies the lesson, you must learn to associate that feeling of discomfort as a signal. A signal that your brain sends indicates that you have to make an effort and increase your concentration to achieve excellence in your work. It is crucial to pay attention to that signal and attend to this feeling.
Personally, I had to learn to embrace that discomfort, to live with it, but most importantly, I had to understand how to make it my ally. It is only with the embrace of discomfort and the personal push that comes along with it that I know intuitively that I am doing my best job and that my team knows it and respects me for it.
I hope that by sharing my experience, you can find in yourself what calls you to do a better job, find and understand your personal alert and follow that signal because, in the end, I assure you the results will always be better.
Since one of the most difficult tests of a manager remains on handling mediocrity, in the following paragraphs, I will give you the appropriate strategies to find a solution and work with the mediocrity that you identify within your company.
Show your team the consequences of mediocrity.
Your first job as a leader is to make sure everyone is clear about what they are doing and why they are doing it. Mediocrity is often proof of the disconnection between someone’s job and the consequences of their lack of performance. One of the tasks that I have adopted to reduce this disconnection is to make sure that the employees experience the different areas of the company, do what others do, and identify the consequences that exist when one area depends on the other.
To better visualize the task, I present the following scenario: One of my clients had a team of several hundred people prospecting contacts for various academic institutions. There were constant complaints about the software being used. After the engineers made multiple attempts to improve, they were asked to physically attend the calls and activities corresponding to the affected area for a couple of days. They returned to their team and shared stories with their colleagues about the misery of working all day with a failing system. In a matter of weeks, the team got to work and improved the software and system. After this exercise, the engineers had an understanding that their job was not only the creation of code. It was about creating valuable and reliable tools for the people they served.
Connect with employees.
You must find ways to connect employees with experiences, feelings, and the impact of good and bad performance; it is necessary that they live, feel, and work on it, only in that way will they illustrate what is a job well done or not.
A few years ago, I was involved in a company where the cleanliness of the facilities had to meet an extremely high standard. To achieve this, it was necessary to work with the cleaning staff differently and more creatively. We asked them to play the role of the client and react to what happens when the work is mediocre, leading them to feel the sensation that the client experiences when there is a lack of cleanliness. This enabled the cleaning staff to understand how the customer thinks and reacts when experiencing a mediocre cleaning job and how their role in the everyday operation made a huge difference. Leading to zero complaints from the clients and a higher Net Promoter Score, causing the cleaning crew to understand its importance.
This exercise was very helpful in raising staff awareness and consistently achieving high standards.
I believe that it is essential to show the consequences of mediocrity from the company’s core, reaching the employees internally with experiences to make the appropriate adjustments and perform the actions that yield great results.
Use concrete and clear measurements to assess the team.
Having indicators that stipulate parameters is nothing new. The failures are made in the lack of perseverance to carry them week after week and act according to the results that the same indicators give you.
The manager must have the discipline to attend to the information that the indicators show for him to be effective in coaching his team and improving the most important key indicators. My experience is that the “I don’t give a shit attitude” starts when we stop measuring productivity and begin to fall into the laziness of not being consistent. Instantly, our team notices this change which will easily be accepted by most of them.
Having minimal accountability is the common denominator of mediocre companies and the main promoters of disengaged employees.
Create a committed team.
Sports offer valuable lessons in leadership, organization, and excellence. As I write this part of the article, it comes to mind what I read in James Kerr’s book, Legacy. This is a great leadership book, as it shows what has led the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team to be the team with the highest number of tournaments won in the history of any sport. One of the main lessons this book teaches is how the players demand results from each other while helping one another when needed and preventing any teammate from falling into a bad streak. They are all a team at the shoulder of their head coach to help whoever needs it. Mediocrity among themselves is not an option. There is only one goal for the All Blacks team, and that is excellence.
Companies with high-level teams foster a culture of responsibility among peers where everyone can challenge anyone for the team’s benefit.
Implementing this culture and accountability is undoubtedly what will give you the most benefits.
Additional aspects with which I can help you to implement the culture of responsibility in your company is recommending applying the following actions:
Clearly establish what you expect of them and speak directly with your team members about what you need, about the culture that should exist in each one and how it should be implemented among them; that there is accountability and that they expect the same from you towards the company.
Share your experiences.
By way of stories, give positive examples of team members addressing and navigating responsibility issues, especially when they take a great risk by taking responsibility for results. Indirect learning is a powerful form of influence, and storytelling is the best way to achieve it.
You are the role model.
Be the example, confront the uncomfortable situations, be the leader that your team needs. Remember that the reason why a “don’t give a shit attitude” exists is due to and starts with your indifference and lack of leadership capacity.
One of the main tasks of a leader is to teach their team constantly. You are their coach. They need your mastery, your wisdom, your experiences, your achievements, and your failures. In these teaching episodes, make sure the team practices with real-life examples, perhaps present one that happened recently. Trust me, they will complain, but this will make a big difference in retention and transfer to real life.
The role of the boss should not be exclusively to solve problems and constantly monitor his team; the boss must create a team culture in which colleagues address concerns immediately, directly, and respectfully with each other. For this, the boss must execute this culture on himself. This takes time, but the return on investment quickly happens as you make up for the lost time as you can see how problems diminish better and faster, and most importantly, with no disinterested elements.
Praise the team members constantly.
People need to hear from their boss that they are doing a good job. That kind of recognition goes a very long way. The vast majority of managers don’t do this with the needed frequency, at least once a week. I can assure you that 95% of the disengaged employees never received praise from their boss.
I would like to end this article by saying the following: question yourself, fight your own “don’t give a shit” attitude and that of your organization. Do not allow any more mediocre attitudes that will directly impact your company. As it will only be a failure to yourself and those around you at the end of the day.
President John F. Kennedy is credited with the following phrase:
“Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”
If you need help making your teams more effective, send me a note. I would love to assist you. email@example.com