The Layman’s guide to being mediocre

I recently had the opportunity to speak with a young man who was struggling to progress his career.  He wasn’t a star but did what was necessary to get by.  He certainly could articulate what he wanted and what he was going to do to get it.  However, his history was fraught with being an average player.  I’ve met too many people who fall into this category.

I worked for a CEO who revamped our performance review system.   The managers were mostly rating employees as “exceeding expectations,” yet their numbers were far under goal.  If everyone was exceeding, why was the team underperforming?  Lackluster results happen when people have a distorted view of themselves and their managers enable it to happen. The young man mentioned above had a distorted view of his achievements.

So, for the benefit of all of you who don’t want to work to set yourselves apart and feel entitled to promotions and raises, I’m writing this tongue in cheek guide to ensuring you stay firmly mediocre.

Here are some tips to make sure you stay mediocre and don’t reach your career goals:

  • Do what everyone else does.  Why dare to be different?
  • Be reactive, not proactive.  Why exert any energy when eventually they’ll tell you what you need to do?
  • Prioritization skills are not important.  If you fall behind you’ll eventually catch up, right?
  • Blame others as often as you can.  Why own your lack of production if you can lay it on someone else? There must be some flaws in the Marketing or your IT Systems or Operations.  Find them, blame them.
  • Leave promptly at 5:00.  After all, they only pay you for 40 hours.
  • Work from home as often as you can.  You have them fooled – they can’t possibly know that you’re not really working.
  • Use work time to shop online – when else are you supposed to do it?
  • Don’t bother helping others – it’s a waste of time.  They’ll steal your brilliant ideas.
  • Try to hit quota but no more.  It’s too hard. Do the bare minimum. More time to shop online.
  • Avoid difficult conversations – they’re uncomfortable.
  • Daydream through training sessions.  You’ve already been through school and the trainers are clueless.
  • Don’t read any business books.  Too much time.  Comic books are more fun.

There you have it.  You’re welcome.

We can’t get away from the fact that most people are average – remember the bell curve?  That doesn’t mean that you must be.  What steps are you going to take to differentiate yourself?  Own your development!  Nobody should care more about your career than you do.  Make the most out of your time and follow your passion.  Having potential only lasts so long before you find yourself on the other side of the hill on the way down.

The young man referenced earlier has started to make changes for the better.  He broke free of mediocrity when he recognized that he wasn’t achieving what he wanted.

For those of you that aren’t buying it, please refer to my tips on mediocrity above.  Your exceptional colleagues will thank you for it.