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Are You Encouraging Mediocrity By Accident?

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Mediocrity in the workforce certainly lacks luster. Not only does it deflate drive and motivation, but it inhibits productivity. Yet, what if that’s the standard being encouraged in your office?

BusinessWeek provided five ways to successfully achieve mediocrity in the office.

workplace productivity advice

© Flickr user Phillie Casablanca

1. If you desire a mediocre workforce, make sure your employees know you don’t trust them.

When employees know they’re not trusted, they become experts at “presentee-ism”—the physical appearance of working, without anything getting done. Congratulations! Your inability to trust the very people you’ve selected to join your team has cost you their energy, goodwill, and great ideas.

Just because you’re not lingering around their cubicle all the time or asking for hourly updates on their work, doesn’t mean you’re placing full trust in your employees. Take notice of workplace productivity in other areas. If you insist on viewing data, reports, or invoices on a regular basis, are hesitant to allow full ownership over a project, or expect to be carbon copied on every email, ask yourself whether or not your requests are inhibiting employee growth and accountability.

2. If you want to drive talented people away, don’t tell them when they shine.

Fear of a high-self-esteem employee is prevalent among average-grade corporate leadership teams. Look how hard it is for so many managers to say, “Hey Bob, you did a great job today.” Maybe it’s a fear that the bit of praise will be met with a request for a pay raise. Maybe it’s the fear that acknowledging performance will somehow make the manager look weak.

Praise does more than just satisfy a momentary need of approval. It boosts your employees’ confidence and overall performance. Don’t be afraid to say “job well done” every so often as this will surely improve employee satisfaction. You may just find that such a simple phrase pays off in future projects.

3. If you prefer a team of C-list players, keep employees in the dark.

Leaders who can’t stand to shine a light on their firms’ goals, strategies, and systems are all but guaranteed to spend a lot of money running ads on Monster.com. Marketable top performers want a seat at the table and won’t stand for being left in the dark without the information they need to do their jobs well.

Failure to communicate the relevance, impact, and importance of a task to an employee does more than make their job difficult. It reduces the overall effectiveness of the team. However, be cognizant of the information given. Provide only the details vital for understanding. This allows for project ownership and innovation.

4. If you value docility over ingenuity, shout it from the rooftops.

The most desirable value creators won’t stick around to be treated like children. They’ll hop a bus to the first employer who tells them, “We’re hiring you for your talent—now go do something brilliant.”

Encouraging employees to innovate and speak their minds just might rejuvenate a project or process. Basing job duties off of decade-old procedures because they worked well then, doesn’t mean they work well now.

5. If you fear an empowered workforce more than you fear the competition, squash any sign of individualism.

Leaders who want the most docile, sheep-like employees more than the smartest and ablest ones create systems to keep the C players on board and drive the A team out the door. They do it by instituting reams of pointless rules, upbraiding people for minuscule infractions (“What? Twenty minutes late? Sure you worked here until midnight last night, but starting time is starting time.”) and generally replacing trust with fear throughout their organizations. Companies that operate in fear mode will never deliver great products and services to the marketplace. Their efforts will be hamstrung by their talent-repelling management practices.

Anyone who has read our blog before knows that empowering employees is crucial to both the efficiency and effectiveness of work. The team at Accelawork promotes this value every day not just with our clients, but in our office as well.

Contact our consulting firm to learn more about avoiding mediocrity, improving stakeholder satisfaction, and achieving successful workflow through methodology engineering.

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