Accountability, Team Building

How To Combat Organizational Complacency

When members of an organization become complacent in their work, that organization runs the risk of being swallowed by the competition. Moreover, if employees are not challenged to improve and excel, their morale will drop and the entire organization is affected. Continue reading to discover some insights on how to resist complacency and create urgency within members of your organization.

Where Does Organizational Complacency Come From? 

It becomes all too easy to forget about what the competition is doing when your organization is meeting its goals. Organizations should always be prepared for the worst case scenario, even if they are experiencing a period of success. Some leaders are hesitant to to disrupt a smoothly-running operation in exchange for new processes that may boost productivity.

Bob Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive of Disney, explains that in an effort to be risk averse, “The riskiest thing we can do is just maintain the status quo.” Why do organizations slow their growth momentum and become complacent with their current operations? Kristen Leverone, a writer for the blog Workplace Insights, notes that fear of decision making, a reluctant attitude towards change, lack of vision, inadequate market analysis, and a preference for the current state are all factors which contribute to organizational complacency.

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Another fact to consider is that complacency in the workplace diminishes urgency, which is a major driver in employee performance. In his article “5 Tips for Getting Complacent Employees Urgent”, Dennis Goin (Executive Vice President for Engagements at Kotter International) points out that humans are constantly seeking an outlet for mental urgency that gives us a sense of purpose. Employees need to be given clear direction and feel passionate about the mission of their organization in order to feel a sense of true urgency.

Additionally, if management stifles innovation and insists that employees perform their job in the same repeated manner, they will become complacent and lack urgency. Organizational leaders should be on alert for complacency in managers and employees, as it can affect turnover rates and the bottom line.

organizational complacency

How Can You Combat Organizational Complacency? 

How can organizations battle complacency that is detrimental to employee engagement, customer relationships, and the overall health of a business? The following four tips are examples of ways to proactively create urgency and prevent settling for business practices that do not stimulate growth.

  1. Clearly communicate the organization’s mission. Let employees know how vital their role is to the overarching current and future goals of the business. Encourage managers to communicate business objectives as frequently as possible with employees.

  2. Recognize and reward strong performance. Competent employees will become more engaged if they feel valued for the work they are doing. Their colleagues will be inspired to improve if they know they can receive recognition.  Allow employees who excel in a certain area to share their knowledge by mentoring or training other employees.

  3. Encourage open, honest communication. Provide employees with an efficient means of communicating with each other and with management. Foster a culture that allows for questions and differing points of view. Involve employees in discussions surrounding organizational changes.

  4. Provide variety in job responsibilities. Employees will become bored if they are doing the same tasks continuously day in and day out. Let members of your organization roam free and explore various types of work that sparks their interest. Employees will never know which tasks they can succeed at if they don’t have the opportunity to try working on them.

Organizational complacency can lead to missed opportunities, poor customer service, and disengaged employees. Even if a company is successful in the present, catastrophe could strike at a moment’s notice. Businesses of any type should be dynamic and adapt to evolving technologies and practices. Change is inevitable, but complacency doesn’t have to be. 

Victoria Vessella

Victoria is a Marketing Associate at Repsly, where she leads the company's P.R. and social media efforts. You can also catch her prepping for slew of exciting industry events. A New England native, Victoria has spent time living in Italy and traveling throughout Europe before settling back in Boston. When she's not planning her next trip, V is probably tasting wine or brushing up on her Italian.

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