What you need to know:
- Various factors could affect the extent to which employees embrace excellence.
- Are your employees assigned roles to which they are suited? Do they have clear targets?
- Are colleagues able to associate the pursuit of excellence and high standards with organisational success?
I am an MD of a local SME who finds that professional standards of excellence have been falling with time. Employees are generally unwilling to work hard to produce high quality work, especially the younger generation. Could this be the view of many other leaders?
It is remarkable to witness colleagues who consistently produce high quality work or render exemplary service. This is so in part because excellence is not ubiquitous. Whether this is because organisations condone low standards of work or employees apply themselves lukewarmly to their endeavours is subject to speculation and debate. Either way, incidences of lack of excellence at work are common and not peculiar to your personal observation.
What prompted you to note that standards of professional excellence at work are declining? Do you find an average quality of work across your whole organisation or only part thereof? What informs the idea that the younger generation is more likely not to embrace excellence?
Which younger generation do you have in mind? If you are a baby boomer, you have several younger generations behind you. It is just as possible to find mediocrity among the young as you might among older colleagues. Excellence is neither generation driven, nor is it based on an individual’s potential. It is often a product of attitude.
Various factors could affect the extent to which employees embrace excellence. Are your employees assigned roles to which they are suited? Do they have clear targets? Is excellence connected to the aspirations of your organisation? Are colleagues able to associate the pursuit of excellence and high standards with organisational success? Could it be that average performance is celebrated or implicitly encouraged in your organisation? Do leaders in your organisation appreciate and reward excellence? Do you exemplify the ethos of excellence?
The words of the author John W. Gardner remind us that excellence matters,: “We must learn to honour excellence in every socially accepted human activity, however humble the activity, and to scorn shoddiness, however exalted the activity. An excellent plumber is infinitely more admirable than an incompetent philosopher. The society that scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.”