Archive for July, 2014

Building a High Performance Culture Part XII

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Words that Hurt: Complacent

In this twelfth post on building a high performance culture I want to put in the “words that hurt” column a word that destroys not only organizations, but lives. The word is complacent.

More about complacent in a moment, but to bring yourself up to date with this series, please review the following words from past posts that work and consistently weave them, and their ensuing mindsets, into your culture to strengthen it. The words that hurt, and their ensuing mindsets, must be just as diligently weeded out of a culture. These two categories are designed to build an evolving portrait of what a high performance culture looks like so you can evaluate your own, and strive towards the ideal.

Words that work:

Earn: to acquire through merit.

Deserve: to be worthy of; to qualify for.

Consistent: constantly adhering to the same principles.

Hope: grounds for believing something in the future will happen.

Catalyst: a person or thing that makes something happen.

Responsible: to be the primary cause of something.

Tough-minded: strong willed, vigorous, not easily swayed.

Loyal: faithfulness to one’s duties or obligations.

Words that hurt:

Fault: responsibility for failure.

Blame: to assign responsibility for failure.

Excuse: a plea offered to explain away a fault or failure.

Mediocre: average, ordinary, not outstanding.

Wish: to want something that cannot, or probably will not happen.

Entitle: a claim to something you feel you are owed.

Sloth: reluctance to work or exert effort; laziness.

Complacent is an often misunderstood word. Many assume it means “lazy”, but that is not the case. Complacent is defined as calmly content, smugly self-satisfied; quite different than being lazy as you’ll see in point 2 below.

Here are five thoughts concerning this word that hurts cultures and inhibits personal potential:

  1. No one ever thinks they’re complacent until they understand the true definition. However, they are often prone to point out perceived complacency in other people, departments, and competitors. In other words, they spot it in others but don’t recognize it in themselves.
  2. Once you grasp the true definition it’s far easier to spot in yourself. For starters, you’ll realize that complacency isn’t so much about the hours you put in on the job, but about what you put into the hours while you’re on the job. You can work eighty hours per week, yet still be so calmly content with your results that you’ve stopped training, recruiting, holding people accountable and more.
  3. Successful people and organizations are the most vulnerable targets for complacency. After all, if a business is drowning and gasping for air, it’s safe to say they’re not smugly self-satisfied at the moment. On the other hand, when business is great, and all the seas appear calm, it’s easy to become calmly content and abandon many of the vital disciplines that made you successful in the first place.
  4. Complacency is a threat that never goes away, and as imperfect human beings we can expect to fall off track in various areas of our life from time to time and become complacent. However, as our awareness of complacency improves we should aspire to get off track less often; and when we do become complacent to recognize it faster, and make faster course corrections. These two actions will help us shape a culture that greatly outperforms the clueless souls who don’t even know what the word complacent means, and believe it is someone else’s problem.
  5. Since our biggest vulnerabilities are those we’re unaware of, by increasing your own and your team’s awareness of what complacency is, you can protect your culture and improve results both personally and as an organization.