4 Ways to Cure a Culture of Complacency

How to get your company's entitled employees back on track and keep them enagaged

Written by Advisory Board

Welcome to Advisory Board, a weekly department in which a panel of experts—made up of entrepreneurs and professionals—answer questions you have about how to run your business better.

This week, a reader asks:

“My business has experienced rapid growth over the last two years, and the team has consistently met sales targets. But I’m afraid my employees are getting complacent about the company’s success. How do I shake things up and keep them driven?”

Here’s what the experts have to say:

Targets contribute to the forming of comfort zones. There is a use for them, but they can cause people to become complacent. Suggest that targets need to be higher to make things challenging. Or point out how others are doing in the market and that your team can’t take their success for granted.”

Kelsey Ramsden, business guide and founder, SparkPlay Inc., London, Ont.

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“It sounds like your sales team has been very successful up to this point, so use caution before shaking things up. Spend some more time with them to make sure your fears are founded—that may fix the problem in itself.”

John Wilson, founder and CEO, CEO Global Network, Toronto

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“Growth often comes at the expense of profitability, so meeting your sales targets while hitting profitability targets could be just the stretch target your team needs. Or you could look at setting new operational targets. Sometimes when a company is growing rapidly, it’s hard for the processes and training to keep up. Setting operational targets could help alleviate future quality issues whilst getting the team focused on a new challenge.

— Jennifer Osborne, President, Search Engine People, Pickering, Ont.

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“Motivation is internal, but inspiration is external. If you share with your people an exciting and compelling vision of where your business is headed, they’ll motivate themselves. Do this well and each individual in your business will clearly understand how their particular role impacts the future of the company, and as a result, will be inspired to work toward that vision. Like the Apple’s and Toyota’s of the world, complacency will no longer be your issue, but an influx of job applications might be.”

—Mark Wardell, president & founder, Wardell International, Vancouver

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