Archive for September, 2014

Building a High Performance Culture Part XIV

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Words that Hurt: Maintain

In this fourteenth post on building a high performance culture I want to put in the “words that hurt” column a word that stifles the potential of both individuals and organizations: maintain.

More about maintain in a moment, but to bring yourself up to date with this series, please review the following words that work from past posts; these must be consistently woven 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.

Passion: a strong feeling or enthusiasm about something, or about doing something. 

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: calmly content, smugly self-satisfied.

Maintain is defined as: to cause (something) to exist or continue without changing.

Managers who maintain create a culture where:

  1. The goals set for the organization are incredibly safe.
  2. People are conditioned to think incrementally.
  3. The status quo is defended, rather than attacked.
  4. Those who question the status quo are seen as trouble makers, or as being negative.
  5. Nothing is changed until something bad happens.
  6. People aren’t held accountable.
  7. People aren’t stretched and don’t grow.
  8. Tenure becomes a substitute for performance.
  9. There is a play-not-to-lose mentality that pervades the culture.
  10. There is a strong aversion to risk or anything new.
  11. Meetings are held where much is debated, but little is decided.
  12. People expect to be rewarded or promoted more for showing up than for stepping up.
  13. There is a large mass of average or below average people, but very few, if any, superstars.
  14. People are prone to pace themselves, and very little urgency is seen until there’s a crisis, or time is running out on a month.
  15. Doing what’s in a job description is seen as acceptable; even heroic, rather than as baseline.

Frankly, in any industry, maintainers in leadership positions are common; they’re easy to find and cheap to keep. But leaders who can stretch others and their organization, but who understand the importance of stretching themselves first are worth their weight in gold.