As I meet with people, I sometimes hear, “I love what I do. If it weren’t for the people I work with, my job would be great!” Sometimes that comment comes after a frustrating day, and the person is joking or just letting off steam. If I think the person is serious, I will try to learn more. If I’m talking to the CEO or business owner or even a high level manager, I’ll ask, “Who’s the boss? Why are you putting up with behavior you don’t like?” That usually generates a lot of excuses or explanations. Typical responses are that good people are hard to find, or that the people are good at what they do, they just aren’t good at interacting with others. Sometimes I’ll hear something to the effect of, “They’ve been with me a long time, so what can I do?” Or, “I’m already short-staffed, and a warm body is better than none.”
Really? Is that really what you believe? Do you feel that you have to tolerate poor behavior? If so, you have just lowered the bar for everyone in your company, and effectively granted them permission to perform poorly. What will happen to your best performers? Over time, their effectiveness and morale will diminish, or worse: they will leave for greener pastures.
A good leader will establish clear expectations and then hold people accountable for performing to those standards. A great leader will establish a culture of accountability so that employees will hold each other accountable for performance and help those who do not meet expectations self-select out of the company. Take a look around you. What are you tolerating? Take action before it’s too late!