A friend sent me a meme today. It said: “When there is no consequence for poor work ethic and no reward for good work ethic, there is no motivation.” This struck me as sad at first, but then became the inspiration for this blog. We are facing unprecedented times, at least in my lifetime, with the economic outlook grim, unfilled jobs, record high inflation and our government about to try quantitative tightening to get a grip on things. The post covid workforce fell in love with working from home and record gasoline prices make the commute to work unaffordable. A couple of months ago I warned you about stagflation in this blog. I still believe it is coming. As a manager, leader or business owner trying your best to maintain a productive workforce and navigate all the uncertainty, what can you do?
If you are self-motivated, it can be very difficult to empathize with or understand those who lack that inner desire. Most likely, you did not get where you are if you did not have some sense of purpose, some motivation to achieve, some recognition that if you did not put forth the effort, you would not gain the prize. Now it seems that personal ambition, the desire to improve one’s standing or to go out and make a difference is frowned upon. We have but one choice. Roll over and allow the waves of apathy to wash over us, or stand up and say, “this is how we get stuff done!” I vote for the latter.
If you are ready to take a stand then set some goals. Let people know what you need them to do. Provide clarity. It seems we have lost the will to set and maintain standards. This is not a new theme; Jim Collins talks about good being the enemy of great. When you settle for ok, you can not be great. It is illogical. John Spence talks about accepting mediocrity, the same concept, and different words. Whatever level of performance you accept is the highest level of performance you can expect to achieve. Period.
As the person in charge, you owe it to yourself, to your staff, and to the business to set and maintain clear standards of performance that are fair, objective, transparent and meaningful. Then your job is to partner with and help everyone achieve those goals. Help them connect their personal ambition with the objectives you have given them, whether it involves direct patient care or the incredibly important ancillary services that make patient care possible, the role they play, and the quality of their work is essential to business excellence. Don’t settle for less, and don’t let the waves of apathy roll over you.