The Boss With Low Standards


This is the boss who just doesn’t seem motivated to perform at a high level. Nor does he seem interested in motivating his team to perform at high levels. He seems quite happy with mediocre, which can be a frustration for team members who would like to take a little more pride in their work.

Why would a boss be unwilling to set or maintain high standards? The performance of the team, after all, will ultimately reflect badly on him if it’s substandard. There are a few possible reasons. The first is, unfortunately, that he may actually think of achieving ‘mediocre’ as being a win. He simply might not feel capable of achieving more. It could also be that he doesn’t like conflict, and finds it easier to look the other way when someone’s work is sliding. Or maybe, sadly, he honestly doesn’t believe that his employees are capable of higher standards. It also could be that he just doesn’t see the benefits of raising the bar, and figures that his energies are better directed elsewhere.

If you have a boss who you feel isn’t asking enough of himself or his team, here are a couple of effective approaches people have shared with me:

1. When specific situations occur, gently and positively point out the benefits of raising the bar a little. It may not work the first time, but with repetition you might begin to see a change.

2. Set your own standard for your own work, and don’t waver from it. If the boss wants to fire you because you want to do a job too well, you might be better off without him.

Before you do either of these things, however, it would be prudent to first take a good hard look at your own standards. Are they shared by other team members? Are they necessary? Are they productive? What is the payoff to them? We have to accept that there is always the possibility it is us, not the boss, with the issue. Remember that a focus on getting things right is not always better than a focus on getting things done. It’s also important to note that, while having superior standards to everyone around you might give you the warm fuzzy feeling of a moral high ground, it is not an attitude that lends itself to working with a team.

If, after your introspection, you’re comfortable that its your boss’s standards that are genuinely the issue, take action! Otherwise you might be sentencing yourself to the very same mediocrity you see in your boss.

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