The New Normal, and What It Means

451326_medMediocre is the new normal.

Sorry to say, but I challenge you to refute the idea. It’s not the exception anymore – it’s the NORM. Call me cynical.

Do you realize how difficult it is to find people who pay attention to detail? Who care about excellence? Who care about improving the workplace culture? Who have pride in their work? Who are willing to do what it takes to be successful?

Oh…by the way, I’m not talking about employees. I’m talking about you – the manager. Allegedly, the leader of the band.

Of course you probably thought I was talking about employees, because that’s who gets the blame when performance is sub-par. Unfortunately, I have bad news: when performance is poor it is a clear indication that leadership is ineffective. Shall I be blunt? If you have a poorly performing team, it’s not your employees fault – it’s your fault.

Look in the mirror.

The next time the service you receive at a restaurant is lousy, understand that the manager or owner is to blame. Trust me; if management wanted service to be exemplary, it would be. And enough with the excuses about “you can’t find good people” or “part-time people aren’t committed” or “kids don’t work hard.” Ever been to Chick-fil-A?

The next time you go to the Post Office (heaven forbid) and wait in line for 30 minutes while a single, uninspiring, disinterested employee moving at the speed-of-sloth waits on three people, don’t blame the employee. Consider the people who run the place.

Get the picture? Mediocrity is not only acceptable, it has become the new normal.

But there is good news. You know what that means? Without question, if you have any interest whatsoever in standing out, you couldn’t get better news. There isn’t a lot of competition.

It’s like going back twenty years in the World Series of Poker – before Chris Moneymaker won $2.5 million in 2003. Average guy comes out of nowhere and wins millions, people start thinking they can do the same. Entrants tripled the year after he won. 10 years BC (before Chris), there were 220 entrants into the Main Event. Last year? Almost 6,600.

The point is, when there are more people doing something well, it’s harder to be the best. Conversely, when there are fewer people, it gets easier – and right now, it is surprisingly difficult to find people with the discipline and dedication to achieve excellence. The opportunity this provides to motivated managers is staggering:

  • IF you are willing to work.
  • IF you are willing to learn.
  • IF you are willing to excel.
  • IF you are willing to commit.
  • IF you give a crap.

I had to throw in that last one. Unfortunately, people just really don’t seem to care if the job is done well or not. And excellence doesn’t happen unless somebody cares.

Again, I’m talking about managers, not employees. Managers are responsible for performance. If you care about excellence, then caring is not optional if you work for that manager. In fact, the big surprise is that employees are screaming for strong leadership.

That’s right. While companies are clamoring for effective leaders – individuals who know how to engage and develop employees, build high-performance teams, and create best-in-class performance – employees are more so.

Do you know how much it stinks to work for an average boss?

No training. No development. No feedback. Nothing. Just show up, do a job, collect a paycheck.

No wonder it’s so hard to find good employees.

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