It’s Idols season again in South Africa and I think most people in South Africa and across the world would agree that Idols is one of the biggest and most loved entertainment franchise shows, in the globe. We particularly love the discovery of new talent and of course the untalented through the wooden mic contestants. These are the contestants who seem like they are ‘intoxicated with something’ (excuse my language) that convinces them they can actually sing.

What I love and have come to observe about the audition stages of the show is that families are able to enjoy watching this hilarious entertainment together. Watching these wooden mic contestants also serves as an ideal ice-breaker, if you left in a room with someone you not that close too and the small talk starts running dry.

But after those few audition episodes and once the judges have done their sifting, there’s no more time to play. As consumers of the show, our tolerance appetite takes on a new form. We don’t want any more wooden mic performances on our screens; we want to see great singers. Every evening we tune in, use our airtime to vote for those who bear their heart and soul on that stage. We want to see the contestants improve from their initial auditions. We expect them to bring their best in every performance, but also being sensitive to the fact that they human. All we want to see is that they are trying their best. But unfortunately, as the saying goes “you are only as good as your last performance”. We will forgive one slip up during the live shows, but if it happens again, chances are we may not tolerate it.

Tolerance in most factions of life has an expiry date. I also started thinking about this in the context of poor performance at work. When an employee is reported for poor performance, good HR practices involve ensuring that the employer always acts in the best interest of the employee to avoid CCMA charges. HR will probably have engagements with the employee and their manager to zoom into the cause of the poor performance. If it’s a skill issue, they will probably place the employee on a 6-12 month development programme and monitor progress. If it’s a resource issue, they may give it month or two by ensuring that they provide all the necessary resources to enable the employee to perform optimally. If it’s a well-being issue (i.e. personal issue affecting work) they may bring in professionals like psychologists to assist the employee over a period of time. However, if all these different solutions are tried over a significant period of time and the employee’s performance still does not change, the employer has every right to terminate employment. Tolerance for poor performance is only acceptable to a certain point. It’s really not about perfection but progressiveness.

When you keep making excuses about certain things and not take accountability for your actions and your future, it will eventually catch up with you. Even the physical or physiological body has an expiry date. If we keep not eating right and not exercising, one day we will have damaged our body beyond repair and it would not be able to tolerate it any more. Tolerance has nothing to do with whether you love someone or not. Sometimes you walk away from people you adore and environments you adore because your tolerance level has simply expired. Even people, who occupy influential or leadership roles, need to be careful how they treat people, because if people are not treated well – their tolerance will eventually expire.