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What's Wrong With Keith?

What's Wrong With Keith?

I was once asked why Keith, who worked in one of the contact centres I worked in, could never be motivated to do anything more than coming in and being average, I said “the world needs bin men”. Yes, it would be lovely if everyone shared your drive and determination, but if they’re that driven to start with, they’ll ultimately leave you anyway and you’ll be asking Keith to train their replacement.   

There’s nothing wrong with being a bin man, I give them the same respect as anyone else in any service profession.  They provide a consistent service, so you can concentrate on the entrepreneurial things you want to do.  Without them we’d be in an unsustainable society. 

Anyway, back to Keith. 

You know Keith. 

You’ve worked with Keith. 

You quite possibly employ Keith. 

I bet you’ve moaned about him too, haven’t you? 

He’s the first one to get involved in the chat, leaves on time, plods along and works at a steady rate. 

He’s been in the same job for years, doesn’t really get involved in meetings, and seemingly has no ambition to do new and exciting things in your business.  Like go on that wonderful ‘Workplace Instagram for Beginners’ workshop you’ve tried on countless occasions to tempt him with in the name of CPD. 

It’s frustrating working with Keith in all these senses, but the reason he is all of these things, is because he’s good at his job, and probably just wants to carry on doing it – if you’ll kindly just leave him to get on with it.  

We’re told so often in business that we need to be growing, scaling, expanding, levelling up, niching down and smashing everything we can place our entrepreneurial paws on, but sometimes we forget that the reason our business keeps going, is because of people like Keith. 

He may not excite you, or break performance records, or share your ambition for ‘exponential growth’, but that’s not his job. His job is to do the accounts, or to man reception, or to keep the status quo with your HR – whatever the job is of the ‘Keith’ in your workplace.  

The point is this. Just because you run a great company and have visions and ambitions for making it bigger and better, it doesn’t mean everyone in your organisation needs to hold the same view. After all, their salary and hours will always stay pretty much the same, but their consistency is going to give you time, fame and money in abundance whilst they watch. We can’t expect them to show such determination in a business that doesn’t even belong to them. 

Your business needs a mix of people.  Too many Keiths, means nothing ever changes.  Too many creatives and nothing ever gets done.  Maybe you think you only need efficient robot types, but then your office has the atmosphere of a football stadium during lockdown. 

Businesses can only ever grow and become exciting if the foundations are right, and that’s why you can’t forget about the role or the importance of the people propping you up. Spoiler alert – it’s Keith. 

Keith’s staying.  Not to annoy you with their never more than average performance, but because he’s reached his place in society.  He’s content with where he’s at, and he’ll be Mr Consistency forever. 

Or rather, he will, just as long as you start showing you value him. 

Stay focused. Value workers. Respect Keith.