Lost in the Philippines – a “Sense of Urgency”

One thing common to our local companies and employees alike; there is a lack of urgency. Complacency has become our norm. When I was younger, I used to think that this would be true only for government agencies. Being back for four after working abroad for twenty years, I see that this is equally true to most of our local companies.

You would think that complacency is the result of past success. Yes, that is true to most previous successful companies. After reaching a certain level of success, not matter how big or small, they hardly do anything anymore with a sense of urgency. A small start-up growing to a successful company can have its negative side effects. Such companies tend to rest on its laurels. They start focusing inward and on reliving their glory days. They neglect to scan the external horizon. They start dropping the ball on customer service, creeping competition & productivity.

How do you detect a complacent company? How can you say that a company lacks a sense of urgency? It’s quite easy really. These are companies that take forever to launch an important initiative. These are companies that constantly talk about improving products and services but never really start anything. These are companies that start an initiative and drags it to forever. These are companies with a huge number of busy bodies. These are managers and employees who act busy working late at night. How can you tell if these are “busy bodies” and not productive employees? It’s simple and check what they are working on. Are they working hard on tasks that are critical to a company’s growth or important customer service? If the answer is ‘no’ then these ‘spinning wheels’ are working on trivial matters just to look busy.

Complacent people are employees that love to shoot down ideas. A majority are passive resistant. Saying ‘yes’ to great ideas and not completing tasks assigned to them. These are employees that are habitually moving target deadlines. These are employees that are adamant to point fingers to colleagues when called out as complacent or busy bodies. These are employees that are quick to complain about everything yet they have no solid recommendation how to fix things. These are employees that come in late and start their real work near noon time and pretend to be so overworked they stay late.

The brother of complacency is lack of accountability. Every single complacent person lacks a sense of accountability. They do not hold themselves accountable for their lack of focused action on critical matters. They are not held accountable by management for consistently missing their deadlines. They focus on effort and not on result. Management does not reward employees on result.

How do you know if your company is headed for a massive storm? Check if your workforce if made up of a complacent majority. If this is the case then you better act quickly and turn things around.

How do you turn things around? Establish a burning platform or a reason for people to rapidly improve customer service or company products. Second, hold everyone accountable to deliver on commitment. Reflect this on their performance goals. Measure employees and reward accordingly. Constantly review the progress of your strategy. Constantly review the progress of your initiatives. Put in place important metrics. We don’t mean complicated KPIs. Identifying your Vital Few KPI’s is more than enough.

Take your busy bodies off their spinning wheels, give them a burning platform and make them accountable to delivering critical tasks and projects on time. Bring in the right people and develop your leadership. After all, a company’s sense of urgency starts and is maintained from the top.

If you have this challenge, we will be more than happy to share with you how some of our clients are managing complacency.