Don’t Tolerate Unacceptable Work

One of the most egregious mistakes a manager can make is to tolerate unacceptable work from employees. It is, in fact, a predictor of organizational failure and a serious abdication of management responsibility.

Whether they are insecure, intimidated, lazy or demoralized themselves, when managers choose to “look the other way” they hurt everyone. Not only does the work not get done but also “unacceptable work” becomes the de facto acceptable performance standard. When rules and procedures are not consistently enforced, employees are unfairly driven to ask themselves “Is this one of the rules we have to follow, or is this one of the rules we don’t have to follow?” As a consequence, conflicts arise and productivity and morale plummet.

Good performing employees feel betrayed and cheated by the organization when they have to make up for those who are permitted to avoid their responsibilities. New employees wonder what the benefits are of trying hard to do their jobs correctly, while the experienced old-timers teach the others that good work doesn’t count.

Employer: Tolerating less than acceptable work is a slippery slope to disaster. Be aware of what your people are doing and if they go off track, learn how to step in with appropriate assistance as soon as you can. Rules, procedures and performance standards are there to be followed so that your employees can succeed in their jobs; they are the measures of job success for your employees. If some rules and standards are not appropriate or ineffective, change them or eliminate them. But if you do have standards of performance and job behavior, following them can’t be optional.

New Employee: You can’t tolerate unacceptable work from yourself either. Try hard to find out what your new supervisor expects from you. Be willing to ask where you can improve. What are your supervisor’s measures of success for someone in your job?

Don’t let others persuade you to coast or to goof off. You’ll find that job satisfaction really comes from knowing that you’ve done your job well.

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