Leadership and Tolerating Mediocrity

I am stunned, shocked and appalled at a recent story I heard about a 911 operator in the Atlanta area.

Now I may not have all of the facts – but the bottom line is someone lost their life because apparently the 911 operator messed up the call … and had a history of messing up on the job. How about a 2,100 page personnel file that shows a number of suspensions and behavior problems !!

As it turns out the operator has been either fired or suspended and the Director of the County Emergency Call Center has been removed as head subject to investigation.

This brings up the question – should a leader be held accountable for tolerating mediocrity or perhaps incompetence ?

My experience screams out …. YES !!

As the leader of any organization, you are responsible for many things, including the development of your people. If you have an individual who is performing poorly or who has behavior problems, you must understand what the problem is and then go to work on a solution. They, in addition to you, are accountable for their performance and behavior.

Usually, the problem is a result of poor training – or a “round peg in a square hole” – or a “square peg in a round hole” – or a complete toxic work environment – or just plain incompetence.

The solutions for poor training are easy … more training – better quality training – a coach – a mentor – an individual development plan – a 360 degree feedback survey and a boss who pays greater attention to the development of an employee.

The solutions for someone who is in the wrong position – find a better fitting position for them in your company or find them a better fitting position for them outside your company.

The solutions for the bad work environment – find out exactly what the problem is by getting feedback from others and fix it – if you aren’t sure how, hire yourself a leadership coach.

The solution for incompetence – do what you can to find them another job somewhere else and do a better job of your recruiting, interviewing and selection process – if you need help hire a professional coach.

If you do nothing and you elect to tolerate mediocrity, you will end up with a problems you wish you didn’t have. As an example, you will lose credibility / trust and respect as a leader – you will likely experience productivity, quality and morale challenges … and the list could go on.

Bottom line – do not tolerate mediocrity in the workplace – fix it – you are accountable.

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