Sancho Panza asks his master, Don Quixote, to make him an earl. He is convinced that the man who can do as he pleases is a satisfied man. He who is satisfied has no more desires. And as soon as one has no more desires, one has finally achieved everything that there is to achieve—and then, finally, one has reached the end.

To Sancho’s chagrin, “reaching the end” is naturally not the same as “reaching the goal”. It is all too easy for one to get comfortable after reaching a milestone. Celebrating success is important; it is also important not to sit on one’s laurels for too long.

Today we are talking about how you can prevent satisfaction from becoming complacency — and how to step in before it’s too late.

Enough! – What to do when you’re too satisfied

When a team, a department or a division reaches its goals, continuously and over many months or years, the (justified!) satisfaction may change, slowly and unnoticed, into contentment; “We no longer have to do so much or work so hard to keep the status quo!” Energy and enthusiasm drain from the routine, and the focus changes from all the things one can do, to all the things one no longer has to do.

In the advanced stages of this collective lethargy, chances may be ignored just as often as the risks. Innovations are no longer conceived, ideas no longer expressed. Employees are always busybusybusy, but actual productivity is at a level just enough to keep things comfortable. When your team reaches the point where – with otherwise the best numbers! – it is only holding itself above the waterline through collective complaining, that’s when you have to intervene.

There are numerous issues which can turn satisfaction into complacency:

  • a lack of enthusiasm for the company’s mission/vision,
  • goals set too low, or demands too modest,
  • excessive micromanagement, and
  • insufficient, vague, or constantly changing standards

are the most common.

If you notice complacency in your team, then you’ve already taken the most difficult and the most important step. Here are some possible measures that you as a manager can implement to bring life back into the system:

  • If lethargy hasn’t taken over yet, raise the bar, set still higher goals; try something new and initiate projects that challenge your employees.
  • Delegate more responsibility and – what’s important – track it consistently. In this way you create the need for your employees to move out of their comfort zone.
  • Avoid re-delegation and support employees with targeted coaching to master challenging tasks.

To keep the same complacency from creeping back in after some time, it is important to analyze these issues and change them fundamentally. That may well be difficult from inside the company, but it’s not impossible. (If you need help, read further below about CHANGE1.)

CHANGE1: Enough with “Good Enough!”

The deeper and longer you sit on the sofa, the harder it is to get back out. But you don’t need to throw out the whole sofa because of a dent — especially with creeping problems like complacency, it’s important to find the right time to introduce changes.

Use our compact CHANGE1 Workshop offer:

  • Concrete analysis and solutions for dealing with specific issues within your team, the department or the division.
  • During one or two days at your workplace with two consultants and about 8 participants from your company.
  • CHANGE1 is helpful for checking planned change processes and can be used as a touchstone in ongoing processes.
  • All this at a fixed price, including a report and two video conferences as a follow-up.

Before you give in—give us a call: +49-40-37644588

“Overall, alstracon made the difference to SAP based on its understanding of SAP’s business, and its deep expertise with regards to change management. alstracon was able to quickly connect with the various teams and team members and especially made the design team very productive in a very short time frame. Moreover, we especially appreciated alstracon’s very pragmatic approach.”