Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Should Each And Every Effort Raise The Bar?

Do You Permanently Raise The Bar When Someone Puts In Extra Effort?

“Sad but true. When you over deliver, that raises the bar. That's your new standard and you are constantly measured against that. Even dropping to, say, a high-average level means your performance has deteriorated and you're possible termination material while anyone else who rises to that same level is considered hot property”.

I read this in a comment to another post not to long ago (unfortunately I can’t find it now to give credit), and I understood it immediately because I’ve been on both sides of it.

Should each and every effort raise the bar?

No of course not… what are you thinking?

I can see it from the side of the person who put in extra hours (perhaps even hours off the clock) and pulled resources and team members from other projects to make my boss look good when the president of the company came for a visit.  It was a lot of juggling, showing up early and working late, as well as asking a lot from each and every one of my team members.  We pushed pretty much everything to the limit, losing sleep and time with our families to make this go off without a hitch.

We didn’t do it expecting a bonus or a parade.  We did it because we are part of a team, and we wanted to have our department and store look as well as it could, and support our boss by making him look good.

The next day I’m asked why we can’t do that all of the time…  thank you… and why can’t do you that every day?

Did my boss simply not care about how hard my team and I had to work to make that happen?

Did my boss simply not understand how hard my team and I had to work to make that happen?

Did my boss not care how stressful the whole process was, and how we were all at our limits?

How do you think I felt when I got a perfunctory ‘thank you’ and then was asked why I couldn’t do that every day?

Do you think I felt appreciated?  Valued? 

Did I feel like something… something that should be used up and tossed aside when it can no longer function as needed?  A consumable…

Was my boss under so much pressure that he felt his job was constantly on the line?

Did he fully understand what it took, and still felt the need to ask us to make that the new normal because he was afraid that one of these days he might have to have to go home and tell his wife that he got fired?

Did he simply not know any better… was he promoted past his level of competence, and he is struggling to keep his head above water?

What should we assume?

Of course you should raise the bar. 

In this economy, this is the new normal.  If we are not able to do more with less; keep improving each and every day, we might not have jobs to complain about tomorrow.

Good enough isn’t good enough, and with the competition we have, we must constantly struggle to improve our quality/service/products/bottom line every day.

My bonus is based mostly on ‘improvement’, and if we don’t continue to find ways to achieve more while using less, I lose money.  So…

Where do you stand?

I can’t state what is right or wrong here, and what I can do is tell you what would have made a difference for me.

Build relationships:
If you are a team Leader, show that you are interested in creating a strong, trusting relationship with those who work for you.  People will work tirelessly for us when we first develop relationships with them.  They need to know that we care about them and their goals; that we value and appreciate them and their hard work; and that we have their best interest at heart.

Show your team that you appreciate the effort they put in.  Make sure you are giving more positives than you thought possible… between 5 and 9 positives for every negative or constructive piece of feedback.

Communicate openly:
Speak honestly about what is needed, and how the team can help achieve it.  Make sure that each and every team member knows that they are an important part of the team, and integral to the success of the team.

Support Constant improvement:
We can all get behind constant improvement.  I’ve found that everyone who feels like an important part of the team will have ideas on how to improve things.  Supporting constant improvement means listening to everyone… showing humility and knowing that you don’t have all of the answers.  Make sure your people have everything they need to do their best work.

Redefine job descriptions:
Talk to every team member about redefining their jobs.  By helping each team member see the overarching reason for their work we allow them to find new ways to do great things.  Defining roles by their job description puts limits on what people can do and what they see as possible.

Help your team members achieve their goals:
Whether it means teaching people skills, helping them develop Leadership qualities, or doing their best work for you while trying to get their own business off the ground… helping other’s achieve their goals builds trust and loyalty.

Help everyone get an A:
Read Helping People Win At Work by Ken Blanchard and Garry Ridge.  It’s our responsibility as Leaders to help every one of our team members find success at work.  If our team members fail, we should first look to ourselves for the fault.

People who fee that they are a valued part of the team will work very, very hard for us.  However we have to understand that we can only push them so hard before they feel abused… Once this happens it’s very difficult to reverse.  When people no longer feel valued, and feel more like pawns that can be sacrificed, the quality of their work will drop, turnover will increase, and it will become more and more difficult to maintain that level of productivity.  Do not fall into this trap, as it’s a tough one to get out of.

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