The Sketchy Issue With "Standards"

Defining your standards, as a leader, in a written form for others to see is merely Step 1.

Leaders tend to think people automatically care about the company, the goal, or the mission just as much as they do. This isn't necessarily true, and most of the times, no matter what "level" you think the organization, team, or company is at; it's not true. Yet.

The minimum standard is not what is written in the company manual or team mission statement. The minimum standard is, in the beginning, what people are allowed to get away with.

"Integrity" is a vague value. To be vague in your standards or values is to beg for problems.

"We expect every member of our team to wear the required team uniform for all team events, even when you think nobody is watching," is a specific standard describing the value of integrity. (You must also then describe clearly what the "required" team uniform is.)

The way the standard is written can either cause confusion or erase it.

And the way the standard is enforced, or not enforced, is the most important thing.

Many leaders cannot stand "managing" or "policing", but if it is not done the culture, and the people in it, weaken. This is the leaders fault. The leader must either delegate to a team manager for "policing actions" (and the leader MUST uphold the law themselves regardless) or the leader must be an enforcer.

As the leader, you can be "hard but fair", "kind but fair", "stoic but fair", "funny but fair", etc. It doesn't matter what your personality is or leadership style is, as long as you are fair.

Want to kill your culture and your team morale? Go ahead and treat everyone differently when upholding the standards.

Setting the culture is a process. It can get messy. People can get lazy (even the leader). Eventually, the standard will rise or fall based on the diligence, focus, and discipline of the leadership.

The higher the standard, the happier the right people (and the leader) will be and the less the standard will have to be policed. More of the right work can be done.

How do you hire the right people for a strong culture and achieve impossible missions?

1. Have high, clear standards and write them down.

2. Set up a policy that allows people to mess up within the organization a few times (you don't have to be the "standard Nazi") without being belittled or penalized and gets them back on track. Your people are human, and nobody is perfect. Do yourself (and them) a favor, and start with the benefit of the doubt always..

3. Consistently uphold the high standard in your actions.

4. Consistently explain why the high standard is important.

5. Dismiss people who just won't buy in and eliminate distractions to the mission.

6. Ask more EQ questions in your interview process.

Your comments, thoughts and experiences are always helpful to others. Don't be shy to write them in the comments below. Carry on!

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