Complacency – The worm that rots from the inside

High performance organizations and people know that repetition as key success behavior for them to achieve success. Repetition allows people to automate behaviours and create routines that allow them to perform in almost any circumstances.

When will repetition become a bad influence?

When I was a young athlete, I wanted to always improve myself, so I had a routine that everyday I would go to practice and train a series of movements and techniques to allow me to become better. These types of routines require lots of mental focus but they are not as demanding from a physical perspective. The goal is to have the brain to record all small details so that it comes out naturally in a competition environment.

Because I had the energy but lacked the maturity to understand these small details, I often got myself practicing the wrong movements and therefore, recording small errors in my brain that didn’t allow me to perform at my best. With time, this became more evident to a point where I knew that it was very difficult to recover from many years of incorrect technique and routines.

In an organization, the effect is the same:

Good routines, repeated many times, make organizations thrive, while incorrect behaviours done repetitively hinder the growth and potential.

Complacency – The worm that rots from the inside.

Probably one of the worst routines that I have seen in many teams is complacency. This behaviour hinders many organizations to improve their operations because when repeated generates a series of connected bad behaviours. If not stopped in time, it can rot an organization and eliminate any potential growth for many years.

Therefore, a key action for leaders is the ability to recognize when and why this is happening in the organization. Complacency can happen because of many drivers, but probably the root cause is lack of motivation of the employees.

Looking to the role of the leader, he also needs to be a role model in this field. If himself lacks the decision making drive or fail to provide negative feedbacks when required… This will also contribute to spread the feeling of “anything is allowed here”.

Good leaders should act based on “Tough love”. This means they care about their teams, no matter what… but they don’t miss an opportunity to provide feedback… no matter what!

How to prevent complacency?

One basic solution, as I mentioned before is to set yourself as a role model. Setting standards in your organization and commiting to keep those standards to be practices is key in keeping complacency away.

Another key element is to provide immediate feedback whenever you see anything going out of the standards you have set. This will hopefully eliminate the repetition of this unwanted behaviours and therefore, prevent complacency to grow.

Ultimately, if you have missed the two points above, you have to be prepared to take more drastic measures… If something is rotten, you have to get rid of that so that it doesn’t spread to others. As a leader, you have the responsibility to break routines and set new ones in order to start new and more positive cycles of growth and prosperity.

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