Do You Work in a Culture of Mehdiocrity?


Share on LinkedIn

No, my spell checker is not out of order. In fact, I had to fight to get it to stop correcting me.

Mehdiocrity: A state of being wherein the only acceptable alternatives are to be non-reactive, to be unengaged, or to raise indifference to an art form.

There’s a lot of it going around.

Mehdiocrity is not as simple as mediocrity.

With mediocrity, you get a result. And if your team is truly mediocre, it’s probably a result that’s repeatable and reliable. This condition is even built in to the quality metrics of ISO 9000: the product doesn’t have to be excellent, just consistent. Work gets done in a mediocre culture, but it doesn’t make your heart sing.

Mehdiocrity is much different.

It has nothing to do with intelligence, talents, abilities, skills, values, ethics, emotions, or personality. In fact, it’s totally cultural. By which I mean contextual, and not related to where you grew up or how your family celebrates birthdays. It’s not you: it’s your work environment. Perhaps the cause is stagnant growth, lack of healthy competition, or stultifying business processes. But it’s often said that ‘people don’t leave companies, they leave managers’…so it could be your boss.

Right now, you’re probably wondering, so here’s how to find out.

The Mehdiocrity Test:
Just answer yes or no. No maybes. (That would be mediocre.)

  • I don’t know what the purpose of my job is and I have given up trying to figure it out.
  • I only receive praise for things I don’t care about and for accomplishments that I can’t actually remember ever doing.
  • My opinions only count when they match those of my manager and the people around me who my manager is favoring at the moment.
  • I use my allowed leave time as soon as it is granted, since I feel I must have regular ‘mental health’ days.
  • While I may occasionally have opportunities for learning, I don’t bring the knowledge back to my business unit because it might conflict with the unyielding mindset of my manager.
  • When my colleagues at work ask me ‘How’s it going?’, the only honest answer I could give (but usually don’t) is “meh…”

Scoring: Yes = 0 or 1, are you hiring? Yes = 2, merely mediocre; Yes = 3 or 4, uh-oh; Yes = 5 or 6, go to YouTube immediately for Lewis Black rant-therapy.

OK. Now you know. What are you going to do about it?

Remember it’s just your environment. You could leave. Or you could plan to leave. Or maybe you are still thinking that the money and benefits are worth it.

These days, not many people have the luxury of a quick exit. Where you work, the people who were able to leave have already left. So let’s assume you’re going to stay. Here are three steps to preserving what’s left of your life force while you figure things out.

First, make sure to be doing something outside of work that is not mehdiocre.

Second, find things you can do (without being noticed) that are important and beneficial. Think ‘stealth productivity.’

Third, make sure you are fighting on the side of the angels by doing things that leave the world just a little bit better. And when you do, don’t forget to reward yourself!

Got any mental health days left?

Dr. Janice Presser
Dr. Janice Presser is a behavioral scientist, CEO of The Gabriel Institute, thought leader in talent science, author of six books on teams, and architect of Teamability® , the completely new 'technology of teaming'. Launched in 2012, the technology caps a quarter-century of behavioral science R&D, including nine years of software development. Engineered to identify and organize the foundational elements of team activity and team management, Teamability produces true analytics of team chemistry, and delives practical, repeatable business benefits.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here