I first heard the term “sanctioned incompetence” back in 2008 when I attended Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership Master Series. It is a phrase that has stuck with me since then, and unfortunately I’ve seen it rear its ugly head in all kinds of businesses including animal hospitals.
Sanctioned incompetence is when the leader either fails to recognize or ignores incompetence in one or more of his/her team members and fails to deal with it resulting in a divided demoralized team.
The problem in so many businesses is there seem to be different rules for different people. Let me start by saying I don’t necessarily think that all team members should be treated the same-fairness is not a virtue (that is a big problem in our country right now but I digress…). BUT, there are certain expectations that must be met by all members of a team or you will end up demotivating your best people.
When you have one team member who constantly shows up late without any consequences, what that tells everyone else is being on time to work is not important to the leaders of the business.
When you have a team member who magically seems to “duck” all the grunt work without there being any consequences, what you are telling everyone else is the details are not really that important.
In my experience, most animal hospitals are run by people who do not enjoy confrontation and honestly I get that-confrontation is never fun. But maybe changing the context of the confrontation and realizing that it MUST be done so as not to destroy the morale of everyone else will make it easier for you to do.
Confrontation is never easy, and there is definitely an art to it, but please don’t let sanctioned incompetence ruin what you are working so hard to build!
Sometimes the best team building exercise can be done by letting go of the people in your hospital who are not living up to the standards of excellence your entire team needs to have. Giving someone warning is definitely the right approach, but if they have been confronted and the same demoralizing behavior is still present-you must for the sake of your TEAM MORALE free their future and get them out of your hospital!
Do you have any experiences with sanctioned incompetence you would like to share?