How would you feel if I described your business as mediocre? A 3 star review – not bad, but not great.
I would be a little hurt, as none of us are in business to just be OK. It’s why we do so much to discern ourselves from the background noise, and why it matters that we have clear mission statements and a well-defined brand that strives for excellence.
This starts from within- with your strategy, your goals, and your people. It’s often easy to overlook areas where you let your standards of excellence slip.
A few places I’ve noticed this happening:
1. Be very careful with hiring young, eager people – except those who are truly AWESOME without reservation.
It’s easy to be wowed by energy and enthusiasm, but if it’s not focused properly, it’s unusable.
Now couple that with immaturity, and it will cost you dearly as they demand and excuse their behavior, offending clients, and making everyone else look bad.
I’m not saying that you should only hire well-seasoned veterans- those are in finite supply and their resumes fetch a handsome price.
Those eligible for hire don’t have to have top experience, but must be able to work like professionals regardless of age, hold themselves to a high regard, and understand that others rely on them to perform.
Clients do not care if you’re young, have an exam, or have chores- they only care about results.
2. Only those who fully understand your process and can perform should be managers.
It’s dangerous to put the inexperienced in a role where they make strategic decisions and direct others. You may have the urge to put a “people-person” in the role of manager for how they handle others, since they are approachable and have a friendly touch.
But if they’re incapable of the work themselves, they do not stand a chance directing others how to do it since they have no frame of reference to measure against.
3. Do not tolerate nonsense at any level.
This means no more babysitting, chasing people for updates, and general nonsense you’d not expect to see at a company like Google, Apple, or Tesla.
When you see schoolyard drama or petty excuses happening, deal with it immediately.
Otherwise, you breed a very toxic work culture full of entitlement and derision. If your crew is gossiping and fighting amongst themselves, they’re not focused on providing excellent results.
Of course, some people’s feelings will get hurt, since they think excellence doesn’t apply to them or they can continue as usual, thinking they’re above the rules.
The rules apply to everyone- even you, so lead by example. Find the offenders, and cut them out before they poison everyone.
Allowing any of this is not fair to teammates who do take work seriously, even though they could make excuses and be defensive.
4. Communication is key!
This is one of the hardest things to do, but is crucial. It’s why I push the concept of Communicate-Iterate-Delegate (CID) so much, because without someone reporting their progress, we’re unsure of where we are and what to do next.
I think of this like piloting an airplane, a large ship, or going on a cross-country trip without GPS. It would be terrible if your navigational instruments only updated every hour- or worse, intermittently. You would quickly veer off-course, and by the time there’s an update, you could be hundreds of miles in the wrong direction, or crashed into the side of a mountain.
Now throw human emotion into the mix– your team is like the various sensors and mechanisms powering progress and ensuring you’re on course.
Imagine if your GPS told you it was afraid to give directions, or when you turned the wheel to change direction, it defiantly locked up and told you “no, I think we’re on the right course.”
Coach your team on the values of good communication, and follow it religiously.
5. Stop wasting time with potential clients who aren’t a huge opportunity.
No more quick chats, 15 minute calls, power hours, etc. except paid up front at your full rate with no refunds. Your time is valuable, and you must define how much it’s worth.
Doing so will trim down those who only prove to waste your time or aren’t a good fit.
Define your standards for your ideal client and what is worth your time, because if someone is not willing to pay for your expertise, they won’t respect the work you do for them.
My litmus test for this is: “If it’s not a ‘Heck Yes’, It’s a ‘Frick No’ “ – Trust your gut, otherwise you’ll deal with the dreaded client from hell.
6. Charge a large fee annually instead of small monthly installments.
This means instead of charging $10.00 a month, charge $120.00 a year.
This weeds out those who treat your service like a gym membership they signed up for but never use since they’re not committed.
It may seem like a high barrier of entry, and that you’ll lose business because it’s just too expensive, but it’s the opposite. This attracts those who know what they want, have done their research, and are ready for commitment.
To them, it’s an investment- not a try-out that they will just cancel next month.
What are your standards of excellence that you hold yourself and your team to?