Complacency is a threat to long-term success

Posted in Business and entrepreneurship.

When business is thriving and profits are at an all-time high, it can be tempting to stick up one’s feet and relax. After all, the hard work and effort put into getting a business to such a point warrants rest and reward, right? And if it isn’t broken, why fix it? If a business has found the perfect formula for success, why make any changes?

It can be easy to succumb to such thinking. It’s natural to be proud of one’s accomplishments and pat oneself on the back, but if that is where one stops working or changing, things start to stagnate. A known fact about the world is that it is ever-changing. Stagnation allows an unchanging business to be surpassed by competitors who innovate and continue to strive for success.

Complacency sows the seeds of stagnation

Complacent business owners don’t think ahead. They don’t prepare for what comes ahead nor do they make changes that would help in the future. Complacency is rooted in the now – what has been accomplished up to now, how things are currently turning out, what works for the business at this point in time? With complacent thinking, the methods that brought one this far are perfect as is for propelling one forward.

But what causes this? What causes a business striving for success to fall back on complacency? The answer lies on both sides of the coin. Fear and arrogance. Fear of failure prevents one from innovating, from evolving. If the current methods worked perfectly to get one to where they are now, any tampering could possibly regress them back to where they started. It’s the fear of falling that prevents one from soaring. On the other side, complete and uncritical faith in one’s own current efforts also prevents one from changing them. One who cannot possibly see the faults in their own methods is unlikely to change them.

However, there are times when insight is unable to invoke change. When the impetus for change is staring one in the face, there are still times when complacency sets in. Set this aside from a personal feeling of complacency. Businesses that have become complacent require the action of the people that make it up. Businesses can become complacent when there is a lack of initiative. This stems from a lack of adequate leadership and motivation. It can trickle into the workplace culture and affect how employees act.

Employees may leave due to lack of direction and customers can get tired of the same-old services and products. Customers’ tastes change. Employees burn out or seek purpose. A business complacent with its current position, never intended to improve or change, will eventually lose business. It starts off benign – sticking with the most successful methods – but insidiously destroys a business as methods become outdated. Complacency leads to stagnation and stagnation leads to the loss of profits.

Everyone needs a purpose

For the most part, complacency derives from a sense of fulfillment. A purpose has been fulfilled. Lack of purpose is what erases motivation. An employee who has no reason to perform above and beyond, with no purpose that relates to the business, is quite likely to become complacent in their current work. A business owner without a purpose does not take a proactive approach to running a business.

The remedy for complacency is thus striving for a goal, a purpose. This doesn’t have to be some grandiose end goal, just something that one needs to work towards. Picture this on an individual employee’s level. What is the reason an employee is complacent? Simply put, there is no incentive for them to perform beyond what they are already performing. Are there career advancements in their line of work? Are they compensated for outstanding work? These are the kinds of things that inject purpose into an employee’s work. Additionally, such a purpose can be intrinsic as well, such as an employee’s desire to learn or succeed that isn’t being translated into business benefits. Perhaps they may be bored with the current work or are satisfied with how their work is currently being done. In that case, providing variety in job responsibilities can possibly stimulate an employee. It’s all a matter of understanding what drives an employee to work harder.

However, a driven workforce can be hampered by complacent leadership. Business owners should assess their own purposes. There should always be something that a business is working towards no matter how small or how far into the future. Opportunities arise all the time that businesses can take advantage of with some initiative and research. Business plans should regularly be reassessed to determine if it is worthwhile to continue on those paths. If the reason that a business is complacent is because the leaders are complacent, perhaps it is time to examine the origins of that complacency. Is it fear? Is it a lack of motivation? Sometimes, the best solution to keep a business thriving is to hand it over to someone else with a vision while setting up oneself with their own financial stream.