May We Have Your Attention Please…The Bar Has Been Raised
Are you maximizing your business’ potential with high enough goals? Whether we are aware of it or not, we are constantly striving to reach goals. In our personal lives, something as simple as putting aside fifty dollars a pay check could be a goal. Maybe mowing the lawn before the weekend is a goal. Perhaps it is that last ten pounds from last winter that are still making those jeans a little bit too snug. Planning a meal based on a Top Chef recipe is setting a goal. You have to plan the meal, make a trip to the store, call and invite friends, and so on. Goals are inevitable parts of our life, something we work toward. Standards are the principles we put in place in order to reach our goals. Most of our personal goals just probably go by without much thought—whether we reach them or not.
In business, goals and standards are more thought out and articulated than those in our personal lives. Sales staff, managers, owners and operators are always discussing numbers, company goals and standards; those are the very foundation of running a business. Most of us are probably already having meetings, discussions and constant re-evaluations of our company goals. We all know that standards are set in place to motivate the company, the product, the staff, and hopefully to increase sales and profitability. Sometimes if we are not reaching our projected numbers, or simply want to amp things up a bit, we need to raise the bar. We have all heard of setting unrealistic expectations, but often times we undercut the potential of our own success by setting business goals too low to being with.
In the book Lead From The Front, Jim Lipuma makes some striking arguments for raising standards in Chapter 30 which he calls “Hitting Goals Is Failure.” At a glance this sounds like a downer, to say the least, but Lipuma’s book is inspirational, not a lecture. What Lipuma is saying that we need to set higher goals for our employees because the goals we set aren’t high enough to begin with. He reminds us of our days in school and how a “C” is the minimum expectation. A “C” is not really a success but it is reaching the quota—it is not excellence or abundance. Achievers, Lipuma argues, do not settle for the “C” grade, they strive to a much higher standard. An “A” is exceeding what is expected and going beyond the requirement to take success to the next level. Lipuma is applying the school analogy to business in order to make us aware of the fact that no business simply wants to reach their standards and do the minimum. Lipuma takes the idea of a “new bar” and challenges us to raise it even higher by saying that we should set our expectations at 150 percent, which requires a mind shift. This mind shift would occur if we set our sales reps’ goals at 120 percent and work upward from there. The point that Jim Lipuma is making is that in order to get more we have to ask for more. We are not even operating on the old scale of 100 percent any longer. An A +++ is the new A.