The worst thing that can happen to a leader is to have a complacent workforce. You may be getting your results and the team is perceived as loyal and dependable. However, underneath the tip of the iceberg is a crisis brewing. The crisis becomes the inability for you as a leader to navigate, should anyone leave the organization or possibly become obsolete because your team simply doesn’t care to grow. You’re lulled into a sense of calm when in actuality you’re doing a disservice to the people in your care and the organization you lead. For my audience that may not be a leader of others, the content in this article can be valuable tips for you to take action before you become obsolete. 

Planning for a crisis instills a sense of urgency and a risk mitigating mindset. When it comes to a complacent workforce, it is a crisis in the making. It is a matter of time before the planets line up and you have challenges in achieving your results.

Let me refresh you on the Crisis Scale so you understand my reference: 

  • 5 – Crisis: You’re losing customers, resources, competitive advantage
  • 4- Chaos: You’re not losing customers yet, but you’re in fire fighting mode and trying to survive another day. 
  • 3- Control: You have everything in order and achieve your results.
  • 2- Continuous Improvement: You continually seek new ways of performing
  • 1- Competitive Advantage: Your customers are asking you to share your best practices. 

Framework to ensure your team is loyal vs. complacent:

  • Challenge them with Breadth or Depth – For the subject matter expert, give them a project in a new area for which they have less expertise. For the generalist who knows a lot in many areas, give them a project where they need to increase their knowledge & impact in a specific area. 
  • Push them out of the nest – Make it part of their development plan that they need to move to a new role every 1-2 years. It forces them to prepare for the change and capture their tribal knowledge to share with the next person. It also builds new skills in anticipating change. 
  • Create a sense of urgency – Start the dialog to let them know they’ll need to grow in breadth and depth and ask them to come with suggestions on where and how they’ll do that. It creates more value for the organization and it makes them more valuable. Without creative input brought to the conversation can be a condition of employment and a good review. 
  • Where a career ladder is not established suggest alternatives – If someone is at the top of their career position (i.e Director of procurement), suggest areas where they can work in different areas of the business that are downstream. This may include working in Operations or Quality where the output of their current role in procurement has an impact on those other functions for which they can add value as well as learn. 
  • Help them discover opportunities before they experience a crisis – This is especially important to the less senior employee who has a thirst for knowledge. Often they leave the company because they become bored. However, if you create an “apprenticeship” model for which they rotate every 6 months, you keep them interested and engaged. 

The impact of this framework is creating a workforce that is loyal to you or the company because you simply cared. You cared about them as a person to seek additional value from them and invested in their learning. They become loyal to you and will bring their “A” game to the challenges and even more important, you will leave a legacy in the minds of people in your care. After all, the loyal connections we make are far more important than simply the results of a complacent workforce.

If this insight was helpful, share this article with others. If you have a unique challenge and wish to have a complementary conversation, please reach out to me. I love helping C-Suite leaders of today and tomorrow reach their career goals. 

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