Insights

Improve Results by Raising the Bar

You don’t have to be Charles Dickens to have great expectations.

How do leaders increase results without spending a dime? Raise the bar and set higher expectations! Sound easy? It is. Raising expectations is not about increasing workload, it is about setting higher expectations to increase results. Where do leaders begin? That’s easy, too. Start by raising the bar on yourself. Then work your way down to your direct reports and advise them to do the same. Before long, everyone in the organization will receive the message that the bar has been raised. The results will be amazing.

Many organizations suffer from a culture of mediocrity, accepting the current level of output and performance. Executives tend to lean heavily on a few top performers and accept average performance from the rest. They set goals that cater to the people instead of the job. Why don’t leaders expect more from everyone?

Leaders often underestimate their employees’ abilities and desire to do better. They see their team working hard and ask themselves, “How can I ask them to add more to their plates?” Yet, many of these same leaders will expect more of themselves.

Most employees can and will rise to a greater challenge. It’s all about communication; leaders need to explain why this is important with the benefits for the employees and the organization. The reality is that most employees only think that 40-60% of their capabilities are utilized. Many employees welcome the challenge to perform at higher levels – everyone wins. All you need to do is ask.

You never know how far you can reach until you stretch.

It is the leader’s responsibility to support the continued growth and development of the team, provide them the support and self-confidence to stretch, and challenge them to try new things. Executives must not consider delegation a dumping tool, but a development tool. In the long run, it is simply a method to increase skills, build experiences and develop more capable employees.

Raising the bar provides an opportunity to assess their job responsibilities and identify the urgent from the important, the value versus the non-value. It forces employees to focus on the highest priorities. Introduce the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 Rule, which forces employees to ask, “What are the 20% of the tasks I must perform extremely well that will constitute 80% of the results?”

Did you every have a boss who raised the bar for you?

Reflect for a moment on your own career. Did you have bosses, mentors, or friends that made a difference in your career? Did they raise the bar? Did they see capabilities in you that you did not see in yourself? Did they have more confidence in you than you had in yourself? Did they reward this confidence with additional challenges and responsibilities? If so, you probably learned how to plan, focus, and prioritize. You became creative with time-management skills. As a result, your job satisfaction and performance improved. Company performance did, too. This is a great gift to receive. Perhaps it’s time to give it.

Raising the bar begins with you! Act like Charles Dickens and set great expectations.


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