Fundamentals, shortcuts, and complacency

I’ve been in client meetings for the past 3 weeks. It’s follow up season where I meet with our customers to find out what we can do to improve and better serve them.

The first repose to how we are performing is usually, “Things are good.” And, while I believe that is the truth, I still push for a bigger answer. Deep down there is a frustration somewhere. It’s usually not a large glaring problem, but a small nagging discomfort…like a paper cut on your ring finger. It doesn’t bother you most of the time, and then in a quick burst of pain, you become acutely aware.

I want to know about these problems because when things fall apart, it usually starts with the fundamentals.

The basics get shortcut because they are just that…basic. They seem unimportant. Maybe you have a time constraint, so you cut a corner…just this once…so you get fit in the work. No one notices, so the next time the situation comes up, you take the same shortcut. Then you’ve started a habit.

A shortcut in one area leads to shortcuts in other areas…or bigger areas. Before you know it these shortcuts have crept into every process in your business. It’s become culture that leads to complacency. Complacency kills businesses.

Businesses don’t grow complacent in an instant. They creep that direction, building momentum in every passing moment. This is why I press the “How are we doing, really?” question until I root out a problem.

Because we are NOT going to take shortcuts…ever. We will NOT grow complacent. It won’t be tolerated.

My company, Envoy FM, is very strong with relationship building. That’s intentional. Magic happens when people have a strong connection of trust and camaraderie. It’s this same skill that leads to our complacency mistakes. We trust the relationship to overcome the shortcut. We believe we can get away with a taking a shortcut…counting on the grace of others to outweigh our action. And they do sometimes. But like I stated early, it’s the road to disaster. It’s withdrawal from the relationship, and eventually there is no grace left.

Relationships only remain strong when they are deposited into. They must always grow, and they will not grow with withdrawals. This takes work and work is a habit.

As a leader, I have to look at my role in why problems, shortcuts, and relationship withdrawals happen. Is my own behavior setting the wrong example? In what ways am I allowing poor performance to happen? It which areas am I off-brand, off-culture, and especially…hypocritical?

At the same time, I have to look at my organization. What areas are not give the attention to detail they deserve? What team members are consistently taking shortcuts? Do we have a collective pride in the service we provide and the work we do? What do we need to change?

The fundamentals are so important. Get them right, and the almost everything takes care of itself. Ignore them, take shortcuts, become complacent, and you will have a really hard time moving your business forward.