Now’s the time to raise expectations across the board. Remember, the best way to increase your team's productivity is to improve everyone's productivity. It’s easy to over rely on your top performers, but your team is only as strong as its weakest link!
You want to make your "under-performers" - "average". Your "average performers" - "good". And your "good performers" - better". So how do you do that?
There's an old saying that "no one rises to low expectations". They never have and they won't now.
18-months ago we were talking about the “great resignation” and pundits were making the case against the “hustle mindset”. But things are different now. Companies are slower to hire. Some have frozen hiring and others are announcing layoffs, and people are starting to wake up a little. The job they took for granted, might now be the job they need. You've got a window of opportunity, but you've got to act now.
Now is the time to raise the bar on everyone, and here's how you do it:
- Deal with people individually;
- Raise the bar slowly, and
- Hold them accountable.
Deal with people individually, so they'll embrace it as a personal challenge. Raise the bar slowly, so they won't feel overwhelmed. And hold them accountable, so they take your challenge seriously.
When people are presented with a personal challenge, they feel a sense of urgency. When they don’t feel overwhelmed, they’ll feel more confident. And when they take the challenge seriously, they're going to rise to the occasion.
But you've got to be very specific and very focused. Pick one or two opportunities that allow for incremental improvement.
Don't ask someone that's "below average" to all of a sudden become "good". Expect them to become "average". And don't ask somebody that's "average" to become "great". Ask them to become "good". You want your higher standards to feel attainable and you need the person to buy into that higher standard.
Make it a collaborative effort. Help them plan. Help them think through obstacles and coach them around the roadblocks. Don't just raise the bar and walk away.
Set some short term goals and commit to timely two way feedback. People tend to rise to positive expectations because they're motivating and they build confidence. So be encouraging and stay positive.
When you see progress, celebrate it, recognize it and reward it. Then keep raising the bar, but keep it focused, personalized, incremental and keep holding them accountable.
When you hold people accountable, you’re showing them respect. You’re showing them that their contributions matter, that you care about them, and that you have confidence in their capabilities.
Use team settings to recognize everyone’s improvement. Don’t neglect the average performer that gets better, or the under-performer that becomes average. When someone rises to your expectations, they deserve to be recognized in front of their peers.
Remember, feedback is the key. A positive feedback loop is critical because it makes incremental improvement feel good, feel worthwhile and it becomes addictive.
A final point, in order to raise expectations on somebody else, you must first raise expectations on yourself. People will emulate your standards. The standards you hold yourself accountable to, and the standards you hold them accountable to.
You've got to be more hands-on and more specific. You have to give more feedback and coaching. You have to give more of yourself. When you do, your people will respond in kind.
High standards, positive expectations and mutual accountability become self-fulfilling prophecies! You’re going to get what you expect (and inspect).