DEBORAH TIERCE: Complacency, lack of creativity drives companies to mediocrity

In a typical business or industry, employees at all levels go to work day after day without much enthusiasm. Employees aren't as eager today as they were yesterday, and yesterday they weren't real fired up. Where is the energy and creativity? Aren't people excited about anything anymore?

Employees do have energy, enthusiasm and creativity, but it is just not being transferred to their jobs. I read once that if we could get employees to bring the same level of enthusiasm they displayed on Saturday night at the bowling alley to work on Monday morning, we could totally revitalize our organizations and dominate any market, against any competition, at any time.

Think about it for a moment. Why are so many people gathered around the TV for Monday night football? I believe it's because innately we are all goal-oriented. Team members have the mission planted firmly in their minds – a mission the entire team is excited about. Everyone is clear on team goals. They celebrate the different strengths and abilities of each player. They are totally sold out to the mission, and they don't care who carries the ball across the goal line. It is truly a team effort. No one gets to the goal alone. Successes are celebrated together.

We watch sports because it reveals everything we like about teamwork, camaraderie and winning. Deep down, we all want to be part of such an exciting effort. No one wants to be mediocre and complacent. So how can we transfer this Monday night energy and Saturday night enthusiasm to work on Monday morning?

A few suggestions

n Stop viewing internal customers (employees) as the “rank & file.” The implication is that employees are of lower rank and just file by on payday to receive their checks – nothing more, nothing less. Internal customers are those closest to the work, and they are full of ideas/solutions that can revolutionize your company. Get them involved and tap into their reservoirs of knowledge and information, and you'll see some energy and creativity emerge.

n Stop viewing external customers as people with money to spend at your company. Start viewing them as value-added creative agents with priceless advice on how to improve your product, service, processes, etc. Tap into their creative minds for ideas to make your company better for everyone. After all, they are on the receiving end of your business. Learn from them.

The secrets to unlocking your companies' potential are right in front of you in the minds of those walking the halls with “minimum wage” stamped on their foreheads. Remember how enthusiastic they are on Saturday night at the bowling alley or Monday night in front of the TV with popcorn. I fully believe the answers are all around us. We have somehow lost the creativity to find them.

Deborah Tierce is the Leadership Skills Specialist at Itawamba Community College Workforce Development Training Department. Contact her at dstierce@iccms.edu