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    The Fight to Rise Above Mediocrity

    Dec. 10, 2021
    Rob 'Doc' Falke shares ways you can fight mediocrity and earn the rewards waiting for those willing to rise above today’s lowered expectations.

    When something is mediocre, it’s very average. It isn’t good or bad, hot or cold, just lukewarm. The challenges of the last two years left a shadow over our industry that whispers, “Mediocre is good enough.” Let’s take a look at ways you can fight mediocrity and earn the rewards waiting for those willing to rise above today’s lowered expectations.

    Why Fight Mediocre Now?

    Covid has become the primary excuse for mediocre performance. It’s a universal excuse that we’ve become conditioned to accept and not question. There are valid Covid impacts to deal with, but it’s time we extinguished many of the excuses. The long-term costs to people who repeatedly lean on this excuse is life-changing but in a negative way. A positive step forward is to encourage people near you who are willing to acknowledge the season we’re coming out of and take responsibility to move forward, despite their challenges.

    We are all guilty of mediocre work in certain areas of our lives. For example, it seems alright to do an average job at tying your shoes. This is appropriate and necessary because specific tasks only need modest effort. Ordinary effort may be acceptable for less important tasks.

    Millions of negative excuses still live under the influence of mediocrity. 

    Acceptance of the idea that mediocre is good enough shows up in people’s attitudes and behavior wherever we go. It may be most visible in retail settings, where a sales clerk or a company policy defaults to a “go-do-it-yourself” approach. Or where you wait for a half-hour to speak to the doctor’s office because their online appointment service is off-line at the moment. These are issues unworthy of your time
    and attention to improve.

    Why fight mediocrity now? Because today is your opportunity to fight against your unexceptional personal performance and for others whom you influence.

    Don’t get me wrong; Covid has produced thousands of benefits. However, millions of negative excuses still live under the influence of mediocrity. For example, I enjoy skipping a long line and breezing through self-checkout at Costco. My wife is delighted when she orders goodies on the Crumbles App and a cheerful attendant meets her at her car and hands her a readymade gift to deliver to a friend.

    How to Fight

    This battle is being won by those willing to tackle mediocrity in hand-to-hand combat. First, it’s a personal struggle to look closely at yourself and others in your company. The work continues as you honestly evaluate the level of mediocrity that may have crept into essential areas of your life and business.

    Look for the same mediocre attitudes and actions that you see in others and erase similar traits in yourself and those around you.

    To rise above the current level of mediocrity that many have been lulled into requires focused energy and sustained effort. Most fights do. 

    The problem is most of us (including me) work to fix all our weaknesses at one time. This approach usually ends up in defeat.

     Consider prioritizing the mediocre performance areas in your career and choose just one to fight to improve over the next month. Then you can move to the next priority. If you have charge over others, work with those who need a mediocrity upgrade using the same approach. Here are a few small battles to overcome mediocre traits people have shared with me while I prepared this article.

    • A salesperson called expressing concern about his falling sales closing rates. During our discussion, he realized he no longer engaged his customers in investigating their systems during sales visits. He immediately committed to inviting his customers to participate in limited testing and diagnostics. Three weeks later, he reported his sales closing rates jumped by more than 70% once he began to engage his customers again. Covid had forced him to limit direct contact with his customers, and by re-engaging with them, his success returned and exceeded his previous levels of accomplishment.
    •  One service technician expressed her concerns that turnover leads on equipment changeouts were not resulting in as many successful sales. After a brief conversation, she realized she no longer spent the time to prepare her customers for the salesperson by helping them understand why the equipment failed before handing off the lead. She found salespeople in her company who were unable to help customers understand technical issues as well as she could. When she began to spend a few more minutes teaching her customers, replacement sales skyrocketed.
    • During a recent class, one company owner explained to his install crews that a zip screw should be drilled through the Panduit strap into the sheet metal when connecting the inner liner of the flexible duct. He says he then asked how many used this duct connection method. His jaw dropped when none of his 20 installers in the class installed duct to his standards. A discussion followed where the class discovered four additional duct installation measures were no longer being used. The class shifted gears as we focused on several improved duct installation methods, which made sense to the installers. Quality control steps were put in place, and all agreed to improve. Installation quality is up; warranty issues are down.
    • A lead installer became aware he stopped making his final punch list at the end of each job. Missing this step resulted in several callbacks and countless future problems his customers will live with for years to come. This omission was quickly corrected, and he and the rest of the company agreed to add this step back into each install job. This single task increased the performance of several systems by nearly 20%, making them far above the mediocre performance earned by the typical industry installation.

    Rewards for Winning the Fight

    There’s little reason to fight for something unless there’s a definite reward you seek when you win.

    In the fight to overcome mediocrity, fists, force, and weapons are not employed. Should you force a solution in this arena, the desired results won’t last, and you’ll lose ground. Perhaps you or others you influence have fallen into mediocrity. Enter this fight by identifying benefits you and others will earn as you change mediocre behavior.

    In the fight to overcome mediocrity, fists, force, and weapons are not employed. Should you force a solution in this arena, the desired results won’t last, and you’ll lose ground.

    For company owners, rewards may result in a more satisfied and livelier workforce. Installers may enjoy reduced callbacks and increased job satisfaction. Service technicians often earn greater customer relationships and more ease dealing with satisfied customers. Sales closing rates will improve quickly by reinstating good habits and dismissing mediocrity.

    Most importantly, you receive the benefits as you eliminate mediocrity from the essential areas of your career, company, and family.

    Rob “Doc” Falke serves the industry as president of National Comfort Institute, Inc., an HVAC-based training company and membership organization. You can contact Doc at ncilink.com/ContactMe or call him at 800-633-7058. Go to NCI’s website at nationalcomfortinstitute.com for free information, articles, downloads, and current training opportunities.