A Common Management Temptation: Settling For Mediocrity

A Common Management Temptation: Settling For Mediocrity 960 641 C-Suite Network
It’s easy, but unproductive, for a manager to accept mediocre work. (Photo: Shutterstock)

One of the most common but problematic temptations of management is the tendency to settle for mediocrity.

This long-held belief was recently reaffirmed for me when I read one of Harvard Business Review’s (excellent) daily management tips, “When Your Team’s Performance Is Mediocre, Address It Immediately.” Its key point:

“What do you do when someone’s work is OK but not great? The toughest test of a manager isn’t dealing with poor performance — it’s addressing mediocrity. Don’t let lackluster performance fester. Start by showing how mediocrity negatively affects your team, the organization, and its customers.”

Yes indeed, fully agree. From a management standpoint, mediocre performance is insidious. It’s subtle, but it’s also anathema to building a high-performing organization.

Why is tolerating mediocrity a common management shortcoming? Three key reasons:

It’s easy. It’s the path of least resistance. It’s all too easy for a busy manager to look the other way when an employee’s work is tolerable but far from great. Work of middling quality is not a disaster but neither is it excellent. It…