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Edition 186 – Acceptable Mediocrity

It somewhat pains me the number of family business owners and managers I come across that are happy to accept sub standard work or mediocre performance from their employees. Here’s some recent examples:

  1. Errors in documents that meant the names of the individuals receiving the document was not the names of the individuals in the document.
  2. Support staff not attending to their roles carefully, meaning an employer had to spend a day out of the office dealing with something completely unnecessarily.
  3. Monies paid out of wrong bank accounts.
  4. Tools left on site – worth thousands of dollars.
  5. Customers being undercharged for work done because someone forgot to add it to the bill.

Part of me wonders if the acceptance comes through the fact the business owners and managers are themselves mediocre at what they’re doing.

Most of me knows it is to do with the fact that:

  1. The large majority of owners and managers don’t know how to deal with the poor performance of the employee, so fearful of the Unfair Dismissal laws are they; or,
  2. The smaller errors are perceived as too small to get upset about – so the owners and managers proceed to rectify the error themselves.

Let’s deal with Number 1. If you are consistently receiving sub standard work from your employees, document the underperformance, then formalise the warning process. There is a mechanism you need to go through. Granted, it is laborious. However, provided you seek good advice on the Unfair Dismissal front, have a body of evidence to prove your case and follow through with the process as it should be followed, you will achieve one of two things:

  1. An improvement in performance; or,
  2. The departure of an underperforming employee – either by their own choice, or by you going through the process.

If it’s Number 2 that we’re dealing with, then you as an owner or manager need to stop it! It is inefficient re-work or costly stupidity that you are enabling merely by sweeping it under the carpet and avoiding the necessary confrontation to improve performance and reduce the amount of hours, money or both that you are investing each day.

Australia’s last recession was in 1991 – 28 years ago. That’s a great track record. Except, perhaps, a recession might galvanise business owners and managers to focus on efficiency, and might force under performing employees to apply some care and attention to the work they are doing.

If your minimum standard is mediocrity, what sort of business are you ultimately operating?