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Some People Need To Be Left Behind October 20, 2011

Posted by Kevin Burns in build a better workplace.
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I sat on a panel at a Chief Information Officers’ Conference this week with other thought-leaders from around North America. One of the questions posed to me concerned the push by populist politicians to gain points with the public by endorsing a “leave no child behind” policy when it comes to education and how a policy like this will affect workplaces in the future.

The truth is, although noble, it is not reality-based – at least not in the workplace. In the workplace, not everyone moves ahead. Some people get left behind. Some perform better than others. Some are management material. Some are not. Some are leaders. Some are followers. Some succeed. Some fail. Some are promoted. Some get laid-off. Many get left behind. Maybe you’ve been left behind once or twice yourself. If you did, I’ll bet it changed who you are and how you apply yourself. If it didn’t then you’ll likely be left behind again.

Success is not a right. It is a privilege. It is earned. It is not simply given away.

In the real world, we don’t turn low-achievers into managers and corporate executives. Bottom-achievers are the first to be laid-off when the economy turns. Look, we are already whining, moaning and complaining about poor service, low initiative, poor employee engagement, declining morale, rock-bottom motivation and terrible work-ethic. I’m not sure how lowering the bar so that more mediocre employees can squeak through university makes our workplaces better.

Sorry, but sometimes we need to leave people behind. Not everyone is a top-achiever. Not everyone is a star employee. Not everyone is future management material. If we lower the bar in education, the expectation next will be to lower the bar in employment. And that, in my estimation, is non-negotiable.

We need to raise the bar when it comes to personal performance, to how we deliver service, to how we engage in our work. Removing the consequences of not applying oneself seems counterproductive.

People need to experience difficulty and turmoil. It shapes character and resilience. People learn more from failure than from an easy ride. And I am all for those who do the work, make the effort and achieve what they are capable of. THAT builds better and more cohesive workplaces and I am completely and utterly in favor of that.

If you’re still having trouble with this, imagine a world that leaves no person behind when it comes to testing for a Driver’s License. Now do you see my point?

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Kevin Burns – Workplace Expert – Management Consultant – Keynote Speaker

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