What You Allow Will Continue

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You Can’t Tolerate Non-Compliance

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Amelia started playing lacrosse when she was four years old. For the last five years she has been a member on a highly-competitive travel team, in hopes to one day belong to the Olympic Team. This year, several of her current teammates stopped showing up to every practice, were skipping at-home conditioning training, and as a result Amelia’s team was knocked out early during the semi-finals tournament. Frustrated by the early loss and focused on reaching her Olympic dreams, Amelia and two of her other incredibly talented lacrosse team members quit and began playing for their team’s biggest competition in the next town.

Why did Amelia and the two other team members join a competing lacrosse organization? Because organizations where leaders allow continued low performance rarely reach desired results. A team relies on leadership to role model the standards of behavior, provide adequate training, give positive feedback, correct their performance and set appropriate consequences for non-compliance. Tolerating non-compliance fosters resentment in team members who adhere to the standards and will begin to negatively influence the organization’s culture.

Your Team is Watching

What we permit, we promote. If non-compliance is tolerated, it is therefore promoted. Other low and mid-performers will catch on and join in on the non-compliance, and the high-performers will be looking for their ticket out. Has someone in your organization ever said something like, “If Joe doesn’t have to show up on time, neither do I?” Non-compliance will act as a plague infecting entire teams and organizations if it’s not stopped.

To start dealing with non-compliance, leaders must identify if the employee’s performance is due to a lack of skill, or the lack of will to perform at a higher level. The “will” is the ability to comply with expectations, policies, core values, standards of behavior, etc. while “skill” refers to the capacity to perform technical aspects of their job. You can learn more about how to recognize low will by using the Will & Skill Matrix.

Leaders of high-performing organizations address non-compliance with a conversation quickly, fairly and with a focus on improvement. Set your team up for compliance success by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Has leadership made it clear the standards of behavior are mandatory, not optional?
  • Is this behavior a Leader Always Action?
  • Was training provided to all including what the expected behaviors are and has the “why” been over-communicated?
  • Is the behavior role-modeled by leadership?
  • Are leaders giving positive feedback when they see the behaviors being done correctly?
  • Is poor performance being quickly corrected?
  • Are there consequences for non-compliance up to and including termination and are those made clear to everyone?

Team members who refuse or lack the “will” to be compliant are noticed by everyone. Leaders that allow the non-compliance to continue, risk sliding down a slippery slope. Team members affected by the non-compliance will become less and less engaged and high-performers will begin to leave the organization.

Stop Tolerating Non-Compliance in 3 Steps:

See Something, Say Something

  • Speak up when you see team members who are not living up to the organization’s values and behaviors and reward employees when they are doing what’s right – what gets recognized get’s repeated.

Address & Document

  • As soon as possible address the non-compliance providing the employee with specific evidence.
  • Be clear and explain the “why” of the expectation for compliance as well as the consequences for continued non-compliance.

Follow-Through

  • If the non-compliance isn’t corrected the appropriate consequence must be taken.

Recognize the Good

Confronting organizational issues gives the leader the opportunity to teach important lessons about behavioral norms and living the values of the organization. Use positive examples of colleagues leading by example especially through a conflict or challenge. By recognizing and rewarding colleagues for living the mission of the organization, this clarifies the expectation for all employees in the organization by demonstrating what right looks like.

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