I thought of starting this week’s blog on Achieving Results with a quote from Seth Godin – “average is for losers”
The harshness of this sentence makes me shiver even when I type, but I cannot deny the potency of it.
Today, if we want to stay relevant in business, we are asked to constantly push ourselves to be the best we can be. To constantly demonstrate a laser sharp focus on our goals, standards for the quantity and quality of work produced both as individuals and as an organization.
How to do that and remain human? How can we maintain this high achievement orientation and not run ourselves sick with stress and fatigue?
Here are a few pointers:
1. Carve out time to think and keep looking for ways in which you can do more, better, faster, easier, cheaper. In addition, do not carry the burden alone – ask your team to do the same and create a platform for exchange, making forward-looking conversation a part of your meetings.
2. Keep challenging people. We know that being underutilized creates more anxiety than being overworked. But pushing for performance does not mean giving people more to do. It is about stimulation, about feeding curiosity, about asking people to step out of their comfort zone.
3. Be an enabler of high performance. Look for and eliminate obstacles. Pause and ask what causes hold up’s, etc, and follow up with your influence and action to support the achieving of the results you require.
4. Someone once told me – “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there”. Focus demands goals, good, solid, smart objectives that can be measured, re-calibrated and celebrated. It may be a seemingly tedious exercise in the eyes of those who have “grown out of objectives”, but the more quantifiable your goals are, the easier they are to measure, the less personal it is to evaluate and the more fair it is to put accountabilities in place.
5. Create a culture of collaboration and accountability. A culture where people know they are supported and know that a certain degree of ownership is expected. Tolerating poor performance is equally damaging to the individual, the team, the organization as it is to you as a leader
6. Test and validate if you are on the right track. Standards, culture, individual accountabilities – all can turn fuzzy if you don’t periodically critically assess the impact of your intent. A few questions that I like to ask in order to drive a different conversation:
- “what would you expect if you outsourced it?”
- “what is the industry standard?”
- “is this the best you have ever done?”
- “If you had more resources, would you obtain an even higher goal?”
- “what could you achieve if all obstacles were removed?”
7. Reward and recognize remarkable performance. Saying thank you in a meaningful and truthful way is a part of continuous success.
Send me your thoughts – I’d love to hear from you.