haze 314Singapore (and other parts of S.E Asia) are suffering from the haze caused by people burning down trees to clear way for farm land in Indonesia.  There have been days where the PSI rating (a measure of pollution) has reached over 300 – definitely harmful for everyone.  I just happen to be one of those people who get effected by the haze.  Because of this, I watch the levels diligently and know when to wear a mask and when I feel safe that I can leave home without it.  There aren’t many days when I’ve felt safe.

As the weeks of this sickening condition roll on, I’m noticing a trend happening among the residents of Singapore.  The more the haze persists, the less they are effected by increasing levels of it.

In the early weeks of the haze, there were a lot of people wearing masks when the PSI reading hit the mid to high 100s.  After several weeks of this continuing haze, the same PSI level doesn’t warrant the same protection.  I’ve seen people sitting outside eating dinner when the PSI is around 200.  It happened just today as 3 ladies sat having coffee for over an hour as the level kept climbing.  There wasn’t a mask among them.

So why does this happen?

Let’s look at the same situation as it relates to standards in a company.  I was speaking to a friend the other day and asked her about her new employee.  “Is she meeting your expectations?” I asked.  My friend went on to describe several days of sick leave, missed deadlines, and several instances of insubordination.  Her final statement was, “At least she’s better than the previous guy.”

Really?  Bad employee performance and behavior is acceptable as long as it’s not as bad as previously recorded higher levels?  This is what I mean by hazy standards.

The standards of an organization are fairly black and white.  There is a level of performance that is expected and a level of conduct that is also expected.  What happens is that over time some people find themselves accepting lower and lower standards in both of these areas.  In defense, they talk about how hard it is to find good people.  I believe it’s more about expectation and acceptance.  If you accept lower performance levels for whatever reason, you will continue to get them.  If you only accept higher levels, you will get them.  Why?  Because the constant message is, “Your level isn’t good enough.  You need to make it better.  If you don’t make it better, there isn’t a place for you on our team.”  An employee will either rise to the standard or feel uncomfortable and go find somewhere else to work that is less demanding.

Great managers & leaders only hire great team members.  Average managers and leaders hire below average team members most often because they don’t want to be out performed.  Who are you hiring?  Are you hiring people to fill your hazy standards or ones that meet the expectations of your organization? Just remember, when you aren’t protecting the standards, everyone ends up getting sick.

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