When Will You Decide Enough is Enough?
In an earlier post, 8 Questions to Ask About Accountability, we tackled the topic of underperformance and took a fresh look at confronting it.
For many, the idea of confrontation is negative so we delay having the conversation with an underperformer that we know we need to have.
The origin of the word confront is two Latin words—con (originally com), meaning “together,” and frontem, meaning “forehead.” Confront is a neutral word meaning “to stand in front of.”
When you confront an issue, you are simply bringing that issue front and center to be addressed.
Here’s a better way to think about confrontation: It’s the search for the truth.
As you search for the truth about underperformance, you’ll need to get answers to several questions. You will need to know: What is this performance costing us? and How do we fix it?
Armed with those answers, you’ll then be able to answer this question: When will I decide enough is enough?
2012 NFL Referee Lockout
With football season underway, let’s return to the 2012 season and the labor dispute between the National Football League and the NFL Referees Association. This was the season of the replacement refs.
When both sides failed to reach a consensus on a new contract before the start of the 2012 season, the NFL hired replacement refs to officiate games.
During the first two weeks of play, the replacement refs bungled calls and delayed two games for up to six minutes each as they consulted rule books and reviewed plays on instant replay.
While none of these mishaps altered the outcome of games, one sportswriter said the replacement refs were “an embarrassment to Roger Goodell and the NFL owners, who are allowing underqualified and unprepared people to tarnish a great league.”
By Week 3, mistakes by the replacement refs had mushroomed to affect six different games.
The mistake widely believed to have ended the lockout came in the last game of Week 3 on the last play of the nationally televised game between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks. In this play, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson threw a Hail Mary pass to receiver Golden Tate that the replacement refs ruled was a touchdown. Replays showed that Tate had shoved a defender with both hands, which the NLF later acknowledged should have drawn an offensive pass interference call that would have negated the Seattle touchdown and resulted in a Green Bay victory.
Sports writers joked that Russell Wilson had thrown a “game-winning interception.”
Las Vegas odds makers estimated more than $300 million in bets changed hands due to the final play. Offshore betting website SportsBook.ag announced it would refund wagers for customers outside the U.S. who bet on the Packers. SportsCenter achieved its highest ratings ever, receiving a 5.0 overnight Nielsen rating, and it was reported that 70,000 voicemail messages were left at NFL offices by disgruntled fans. In 2014, ESPN’s listing of the 45 most memorable moments in the history of Monday Night Football, as voted on by ESPN.com contributors, ranked the controversy as #1.
Such was the cost of these mistakes—in dollars, in reputation, in player safety, in the standings of two playoff-contending teams—that two days after this game the NFL and the referees reached a new agreement, ending the dispute. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged that the Seattle-Green Bay game “may have pushed the parties further along in negotiations.”
When is Enough Enough for You?
When people outside our organization—suppliers, customers and contract laborers—disappoint us, how many chances do they get before we give up on them?
Based on my own experience, only one or two chances.
How many chances do we give those inside our organization to disappoint us?
Data I’ve collected shows that leaders give their colleagues dozens of chances to break promises, miss deadlines and generally screw up.
When you think about the cost of poor performance in your organization, have you considered these costs?
- Overtime and contract labor costs to accelerate work
- Rush charges for freight and expedited service
- Your reputation with customers
- Loss of a customer
- Your reputation with employees who see underperformers getting chance after chance after chance
How much is this performance costing you?
How bad must things get before you decide enough is enough?
How much underperformance are you willing to tolerate before making the changes you know you need to make?