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  • Tom Matthews

How Much Mediocrity Do You Accept?

My definition of mediocrity is sub-par performance by someone in our organization (including me) that does not meet the minimum bar to help our company be successful.

I wanted to write about this because I have seen instances of this with many of my clients. Of course I am the enlightened one so I would never allow it to happen in my business. Yep, you guessed it, I found evidence of mediocrity in my own business that I was complicit in. Like you, I had never thought about how damaging this can be to my business.

In my business, I have three computers, a phone and a tablet. I was struggling with my calendar syncing up so I hired a tech that does work for one of my clients. His work fell right into the definition of mediocrity: sub-par performance that did not solve the problem. And my response was, oh well – I will just figure it out.

That was the original inspiration to write this post. It also inspired me to challenge mediocrity in my business. I hired another tech that really knows his stuff. And he completely solved my problem. His rate was the same as the first guy but he performed at a much higher level.

In continuing my “research” for this post, I took on another challenge. I sat down with pen and paper to make a list of mediocre behaviors that I see with my clients. The list got so long that I decided to stop with 20 items per client. Every one of you that is a client of mine has a list of 20 mediocre items. That includes me!

You would think that the reason for this is business owners are busy with their work and don’t even know about the list of mediocre items. That is not the case. Instead, these are items that the owner just does not want to deal with – or he underestimates the effort it will take to be successful.

Here are some examples of what you, my client, is not taking care of:

  • Desktop computers from specific staff that are running so slowly, the staff’s productivity (which is all computer based) is at 50% of what it should be because all she does is watch the swirling hourglass. This has been going on for a year.

  • Average days outstanding of your receivables balance is more than 50 days when terms are at 30 days. The twice a year effort to “clean up receivables” is always successful. Why isn’t this a 12 times per year or 24 times per year task?

  • One of your sales people never makes his quota. He has been talked to many times and yet nothing changes. This has been going on for 1 ½ years.

  • You have very critical deadlines. You miss them 60% of the time and your business is suffering because of this. This has become your reputation in the industry but instead of fixing this, you are spending more time and money generating new sales.

I would like to reverse this so let me challenge you. Have your number 2 person make your list of 20 items. You know the definition. Then make him or her responsible for eliminating one item a week (or one item a month). It may take some money and it may take some staff changes. That’s OK. The unintended consequence of this is very positive. Your good staff will respect you more, work harder for you and be happier.

Good luck with this.

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