Complacency – and its ill effects – surrounds us on all sides.
Consider the politics. Democrats held a Senate seat for 47 years and assumed they would win again in 2010, but they didn’t.
Consider sports. 2010 is the first year since 1993, that’s 17 years, that the two number one seeds, presumably the two best teams, have met in the Super Bowl.
Consider business. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, a composite of 30 of the largest and strongest companies in the United States, has seven new members since 2000, and only five (DuPont, Proctor & Gamble, ExxonMobil, United Technologies, and General Electric) have been in this category. ready. for more than 70 years.
Consider your business. Have you lost a Customer who was a surprise because “he was with you forever” or “he loves us”? Have your profits fallen a year after a great performance?
To be sure, in all these cases there are other factors at play besides complacency. However, it is equally true that at least part of the reason for the above results is the insidious, sometimes undetected or underestimated factor called complacency.
The good news is that complacency often comes after some success. The bad news is that it can spread quickly and significantly reduce future success. The best news is that it can be defeated. Here are six steps to help you.
Acknowledge it. Doctors know that it is difficult to treat a patient until a diagnosis is made. Complacency can start out with quiet confidence, which most would see as a positive, and slowly become a problem with the early stages going unnoticed. What do you see different in the habits and approach of people (or yours)? Are you taking the little things for granted? Are you doing less of the things that led to past successes?
Put it in context. Complacency probably won’t happen until you’ve had some success! Complacency comes from success. So, acknowledge and celebrate success first, then challenge complacent thoughts and actions. Help people remember the feeling that came with success. When they can emotionally connect with that feeling, you can use it to avoid complacency and focus on the next accomplishment.
Set new goals. If the previous goals were met and no new ones were set, you have a problem. Now is the time to involve others in setting new goals. Create them with the same excitement and anticipation you had when setting past goals that you and your team met. Make sure the new goals are challenging enough to inspire the energy to combat complacency.
Keep the purpose clear. Goals are great, but it’s the underlying purpose or “why” that will really drive discipline and performance and be a natural antibiotic for complacency. Remind people of your purpose. Connect people with the emotions of success and reaching the purpose. If the purpose or vision has changed due to past accomplishments, rephrase that purpose in the most meaningful way possible.
Create healthy competition. Human beings love competition, be it with themselves or with others. You can combat complacency with creative competition. Create ways to help people compete against themselves or the goals they beat last year. Allow teams to compete against each other (though not in destructive or disabling ways) in pursuit of common goals. Define an external competitor as the source of your energy and effort.
Remember history and human nature. Like the examples at the beginning of this article, history shows that complacency is part of the human condition. Recognizing this helps you deal with it personally and as a team or organization. However, when you feel or see it, don’t resort to guilt or guilt; rather, acknowledge it and use all your mental and emotional energy to focus on getting over it instead of worrying about its presence.
Complacency; Avoid it at your own risk. When you choose to attack it before it spreads in your mind or in the mind of your organization, the steps above will help prevent the spread and, with consistent effort, eliminate the current outbreak.