I have this simple management notion that if I get hit in the head by a two by four twice in one week, then I need to begin to pay attention because the third hit might really have a lasting impact. Well, twice in the last week I’ve had conversations that basically went like this … “yeah … but I’m not as bad as him.”
It could just as easily have been a ‘her’ or an ‘it’ or a ‘they’. The point is, folks were comparing their situation to someone else and instead of looking for positive comparisons, they settled on comparing themselves with the most dysfunctional entity they could name.
Try any of these on and see if they fit:
– “Mary is not a great project leader, but she’s better than Austin.”
– “Our marketing results weren’t great in 2010, but they weren’t as bad as 2009.”
– “Our hiring process needs work, but at least we don’t have the turnover problems they have in the southwest division.”
– “We were a week late on our first deliverable, but the previous consulting firm never delivered anything.”
– “We had a tough quarter, but not as bad as Haliburton.”
– “John turned out to be a bad hire, but not as bad as that convict we hired last year.”
Did any fit? Perhaps you have a couple you can share.
I’ve heard this called the Springer Effect. You know the crazy guy on TV that wheels in case after case of societal misfits. The Springer Effect suggests we watch these train wrecks because in comparison, things aren’t so bad in our lives.
Top performers, on the other hand, are always comparing themselves to other top performers. They are benchmarking their sales, earnings, recruiting, product development, you name it, against industry leaders and are always trying to find ways to improve and leap frog their competition.
So beware of the Springer Effect in your organization. It’s easy to compare your results to average or poor performers in your business, in your industry or anywhere in the economy. Compare yourself to your potential and work to become the best version of that.