If there isn’t a clearly expressed gap between where you are, and where you want to be, motivation in your organization will be weak. There’s just no way around that. The concept of “do your job” and “focus on excellence at your role” are for operational organizations that are in a holding pattern. Progression can’t be achieved when there is no compelling objective to guide where you’re moving. When you focus too long on how great you are now, it erodes the impetus for change. Celebrate, and then move on to the next challenge.
Here’s a fact: if your employees are focused only on “doing their jobs,” your organization isn’t progressing in its market. Rather, you need them “doing their part,” which is significantly different. Doing their part means doing their jobs within the context of the strategy. My favorite example of this is a WestJet employee. Typically, they understand that their job isn’t just to sell you a ticket, or show you how to put a seatbelt on. They understand that their job is to serve up the strategy (brand). Without them, the strategy doesn’t work. Sometimes this happens because executives think that strategy is supposed to only exist at their level, and other times its because there is no clearly accepted strategy and future focus for the organization. The reality is that your competitive strategy is always carried to your customers by your employees.
To that end, you need gaps. Gaps tell people where you’re focusing. The extent of the gap tells us how important closing it is. Gaps also indicate leadership, because when most leaders want to focus on making things look as positive as they can, real leadership is being brave enough to acknowledge where things aren’t perfect.
Make friends with the concept of performance gaps.