Workplace Lemons (and How Not to be One)

At Shoppers, Inc. we are very passionate about great customer service, measurement and teamwork.  The article below from Workplace Lemons (and How Not to be One)  about dismissal and termination and employee training relates to our goals and passions.  Hope you enjoy it!


According the Wikipedia, “Lemon laws are American state laws that provide a remedy for purchasers of cars in order to compensate for cars that repeatedly fail to meet standards of quality and performance.”

No one wants to spend money for a car or other product that is defective or doesn’t meet expected standards. And no one likes to be disappointed on what they get for the money they spend.

What if there were lemon laws for disappointing workplace performance?

As an employee who is paid by an employer to perform, what might get you disqualified as a “lemon”?

In the workplace, they’re not called “lemon laws.” They are called dismissal and termination. And they’re bad for both the employer and the employee.

If you like your job, you don’t want to be replaced for being defective in the results you deliver. Here are three ways to make sure your work won’t invoke the spirit of the lemon law:

1.    Know what is expected

Every employer has expectations when they do business with you. Unfortunately some employees don’t find out what those expectations are until after they’re not met.

Meet with your manager to clarify your own job expectations. That includes where you should focus your attention, what gets priority and what skills you need to develop or improve.

Priorities change, so regularly schedule a brief meeting for feedback on your performance to make sure you’re focused on doing the right things.

2. Meet standards and, if possible exceed them

The most valued employees are those who know how to add value to their work. To earn more, contribute more. The worst thing you can do, for an employer or a customer, is to over-promise and under-deliver. That’s a guaranteed strategy for disappointment.

Consider these questions:

What are you doing to exceed expectations? Are you willing and able to do a little more than expected?

Are you unique in a way that your company values, or are you interchangeable with anyone else who could do the job?

3. Commit to excellence

Excellence begins with a mindset. It is the commitment to focus your attention and skills to create something worthy of you, valued by your employer and worthwhile to your customer.

Those who only do “just enough” often get by but they never get ahead. Employers appreciate not just the work that is done, but the attitude of the person doing the work.

There is an old and familiar saying: “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” That’s great advice for dealing with adversity and setbacks. But if you want to be a valued employee and move ahead in your career, make sure that your work doesn’t qualify for any lemon laws of low performance. Instead, strive to be a positive example of superior performance.

4. Seek feedback

One way to assure your performance is as expected or better is to ask for ongoing feedback. Don’t just inquire about how you’re doing; specifically ask about what you could do different or better to improve your work. A rational employer will appreciate your efforts to assure quality and get better at what you do.

If there were lemon laws for workplace performance, neither you nor I would want to invoke them with substandard work. Aim to meet expectations, continually improve performance and become an encore performer in your organization.

Mark Sanborn, CSP, CPAE is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. He is an award-winning speaker and the author of the bestselling books, The Fred Factor: How Passion In Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary Into the Extraordinary, You Don’t Need a Title to be a Leader: How Anyone Anywhere Can Make a Positive Difference and The Encore Effect: How to Achieve Remarkable Performance in Anything You Do. His book Up, Down or Sideways: How to Succeed When Times are Good, Bad or In Between was released October 2011. To obtain additional information for growing yourself, your people and your business (including free articles), visit


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