Don’t Let this Silent Killer Ruin the Success of Your Business

Over the past couple of years, Walmart has done well to compete in the age of Amazon, earning a lot of praise under CEO, Doug McMillon.  But According to The Dallas Morning News, it wasn’t that long ago that the retailer was perilously content with simply being the world’s largest retailer.

In a recent interview with Dallas retail real estate mogul, Herb Weitzman, Walmart veteran, JP Suarez, reported that the retailer’s opinion was that its stores and groceries—including “adequately” trained employees and somewhat efficient in-store pick up of online orders was plenty “good enough.”

As American Express points out, though, “Complacency can be the single most dangerous threat to any business.” The company goes on to suggest that complacent organizations risk the following outcomes:

  • Ruining their competitive edge.
  • Tolerating mediocre performance.
  • Losing good employees and not being able to attract new talent.
  • Giving up market share without realizing it.
  • Losing customers and revenue.

Complacency makes leaders reluctant to challenge their current circumstances because they are “comfortable” with where they are. But this only positions their organizations for potential disaster.

“You can never get complacent because a loss is always around the corner.”

 ~ Venus Williams

Many legacy brands are now out of business because they mistakenly assumed their “status quo” would carry them into the future “as is.” But in todays ever evolving retail landscape, there is no room for attitudes like “it worked fine last time” or  “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

Leaders at Forever 21, for example, figured they’d “nailed” their success with a large number of big stores (i.e. the bigger the store, the more business they’d do). But all of their big stores—with their cluttered layout and failure to promptly respond to fashion trends—couldn’t save the company from filing for bankruptcy.

By contrast, Walmart’s former CEO (Greg Foran) was of the opinion that it’s stores, were, in fact, not good enough and they had to get better. After all, it was the “good” companies that were disappearing, while the “great ones” had the staying power.

So what can businesses do to avoid the threat of complacency? American Express reveals that the solution starts with leaders, and how they think and feel about their own development. That’s because when leaders get better, their teams and their businesses do too.

“Self-improvement is one of the best antidotes to fight off complacency.”

Modern Retail

Leaders should actively and regularly challenge their knowledge and skills to constantly improve them, instead of attempting to “wing” their career and the future of their business.

Improving employee relationships is also key. Leaders need to be able to effectively communicate with their team members and build trust so employees are willing to accept leaders’ goals and guidelines. They should help their teams refine their knowledge and skills, as well as encouraging them to be innovative and challenge the status quo. Then they should reward individuals for coming up with the best solutions to improve productivity, service and results.

“The single biggest way to impact an organization is to focus on leadership development. There is almost no limit to the potential of an organization that recruits good people, raises them up as leaders and continually develops them.”

~ John Maxwell

“Companies that encourage “thinking” at all levels have the best chance to avoid the dangerous effects of complacency within their organization,” advises American Express.

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Sherene Funk is the author of the contemporary romance Autumn in Your Arms and two small business e-books. She is a voracious reader who owns more books than she can ever read in this lifetime. A graduate of Brigham Young University, she worked in advertising for many years before moving to her current writing position at Rain Retail Software. She researches non-stop to see what successful retailers do and loves to share what she learns with small business owners.