Plateau Effect– Lost Work Mojo– Push Reset Button: Think Different– Refocus, Reenergize, Reengage…

When organizations are at the same position, doing same thing, getting same outcomes… they hit a plateau: It’s the ‘plateau effect’. It’s a very common state for many organizations… They grow and prosper but eventually they hit a plateau, where whatever action got them to the current level… is not enough to elevate them to next level…

Breaking a ‘plateau’ is an ongoing stair-step process of developing new thinking and new actions that have nothing to do with the actions that were successful in getting them to the current position… The things that worked before, becomes less effective over time…

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There are three types of successful organizations; those that have experienced growing pains, those that currently are experiencing growing pains, and those that will… All companies hit bumps along the road to growth, bumps that usually have less to do with external factors like the– industry, marketplace… and much more to do with natural way organizations evolve. Just as humans– develop, grow, mature… and decline, and so to do organizations…

In the article Plateau Effect: Why Initiatives Fail by Craig Long writes: We have all seen this movie before: The scene opens with lots of fireworks, fanfare announcing the next great corporate initiative, which promises significant sustainable improvements! This roll-out is typically followed by lots of new staffing, training, slogans, goals… The excitement level is pretty high, initially; a few quick wins follow, then although there is still some success, the air starts leaking out of the initiative balloon.

Morale drops, leaders lose interest, and the organization is now dragging an anchor that must eventually be cut. Why? The very nature of the competitive corporate environment creates a natural catalyst for change. Positive changes that result in a better products/ services or more favorable market positions are ultimately rewarded… Organizations must change, but making the right moves isn’t always easy, and there are two major challenges to making change happen. The first is creating change; the second is sustaining it… Reenergize, refocus… requires different ways of thinking and acting…

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In the article Burned-out, Overworked; Reenergize the Team by Jon Gordon writes:  Many workers are tired of  working more hours for less pay and often under the threat of termination… many  have just mentally checked out of their jobs. They are simply doing what they need to in order to hang on until something better comes along… Hence it’s time for leaders to reenergize their companies and get inside employees’ heads…

They need to proactively shape the organization into one that is positive, resilient and prepared to take on new initiatives… it’s time to take positive actions that will inspire and energize the team to not just survive but to thrive. It’s time to boost morale, engage in new   initiatives that break the chains of the plateau effect… Consider the next steps:

  • Focus on People not Numbers: It’s easy to become fixated on performance number… But ultimately an organization’s failure or success is determined by the moods, innovation, energy, thoughts and behaviors of the people who work there… It’s not numbers that drive people but the people who drive numbers… Too often, worried leaders approach this relationship backwards. Hence, this is the time to  give more attention to people, and on process! After all, numbers are just indicators of how well people are executing. Remember culture drives behavior, behavior drives habits, habits drive results…
  • Practice Positive Leadership: Positive leadership doesn’t simply mean the absence of overt negativity– it means being purposeful in the face of adversity. While it’s important to acknowledge the obstacles an organization is facing, don’t dwell on– where you are, focus on where you are going… It’s a scientifically proven fact that the nature of people’s thoughts affects behavior, e.g.;  if you think the best days are behind you, they are… However, if you think the best days are ahead of you, they are… Therefore, it’s time to regroup, refocus and unite to create a winning mindset… Remember, culture drives behavior… first you win in the office, then you win in the marketplace…
  • Teach People to be Heroes not Victims: Both heroes and victims get knocked down. The distinction between the two groups lies in the fact that heroes get back-up, while victims simply give-up… In a rapidly changing world, it’s important to choose ‘faith’ over ‘fear’… The two share a future that hasn’t happened yet, and the main thing that separates them is hope, or a lack thereof… ‘Faith’ is believing in a positive future and it creates heroes… while ‘fear’ is believing in a negative future and it creates victims…
  • Focus on Small Wins: Always place attention on the little, ordinary, non-spectacular ‘wins’ that add up to big successes… When you focus on small wins, you gain the confidence to go after and create the big wins… Keep in mind that employees might currently be discouraged or burnt-out, so make sure to really highlight and celebrate the small wins in order to foster loyalty, excitement, confidence… After all, championships are won as the result of many small wins…
  • Put Sharks in Key Positions: When the organization thrives, it’s more forgiving if key employees have mediocre performance. But in tough times figuring-out which people display characteristics of– driven, go-get-’em…’sharks’, and which are– ‘goldfish’… is critical for sustaining the organization.‘Sharks’ must be in positions that drive business… whereas, ‘goldfish’ are better suited for support roles, market analyses, cultivating customer goodwill… However, many organizations put ‘sharks’ and ‘goldfish’ in wrong positions: Put the right people in the right positions and allow them to do what they do best…

The ‘plateau effect’ is a law of nature, as real and as impactful as gravity or friction… It’s built directly into the genetic code of an organization… According to Joel Brown; ‘plateau effect’ explains why the world is full of one-hit-wonders, why all good things come to an end, why all trends eventually fall... Breaking through a plateau requires constant recalibration; it takes little of ‘this’ and bit of ‘that’… As expectations increase it’s often difficult for employee’s energy levels to keep pace… Everyone knows what it’s like to feel worn-out, tired, or bored… and some may be on the verge of burnout, defeat. This feeling of being drained (or simply uninspired) is universal…

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The ups and downs of a person’s energy levels are actually quite predictable, and it can be managed… It begins by reminding people about what matters, and why they are working in the first place. Some have lost their directional focus, and energy levels tend to plummet when people forget what they are doing and why they are doing it, e.g.; why they do what they do?

Plateau robs organizations of success. They make hard work worthless. They turn beginner’s luck into sophomore slumps. They can even make organizations look– lazy, dumb, careless… it’s like fighting an invisible enemy. Countering the effects means shaking things-up, being more innovative, trying different approaches, techniques, procedures… Leaders must take bolder and prudent risks… to mitigate the dreaded plateau…