Willing to meet expectations

Last week I tweeted out this little gem:

Saw “willing to meet expectations” on a resume. Aim higher people, seriously.

Ah, I do love reading resumes, you’ll never know what nuggets of HR humor you will stumble upon and have to share with the rest of the world. Hell, Not Hired is a whole site dedicated to that sort of stuff. The more I thought about that line though, the more I came to realize how true of a statement it could be. When it comes to down to it, how many of your employees seem to fall into the category of “willing to meet expectations”? They show up, but that’s about all that you can say about them. They do their job, for the most part. Doing the bare minimum is about all that you can expect of them. They have no real direction or career aspirations, or if they do, it’s certainly not in this job or at this company. Come performance review time, they are harder to evaluate than the worst performers. What do you say to someone who does their basic job but that’s all?

Now, clearly these are not your A performers. They aren’t even B performers. Your B performers actual put in effort and hard work. They are apathetic, disengaged, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. But now that they are in your company what are you supposed to do with them? Be honest. Let them know that you expect more from them, why, and hold them to that. Don’t back down, don’t be vague, and most certainly don’t let them get away with the status quo. When you have an employee who breaks the rules or just doesn’t do their job, it’s easy to find the motivation to give them a proverbial kick in the pants. So why is it so hard for managers to do the same for these employees? The worse that will happen is that the employees will turn into bad performers and get fired or they will decide that the job is suddenly too much of a hassle and leave on their own. Harsh? Maybe. But did you want them in your company anyway? Were they contributing anything of value? The worse thing you can do with an employee who is “willing to meet expectations” is to enable their mediocrity. If nothing else, that’s one less painful performance review you’ll have to do.

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