One problem that organizations can run into when striving for high standards is using the term in a general way without clearly defining them or explaining how to achieve them. In this article I’m going to discuss 6 high standards I believe are important.  Of course there are more.

  1. Performance

Performance goals are a great motivator, as long as employees believe the goals have some value beyond just a number.  The goals need to resonate with employees in a meaningful way.  Here are 6 ways that performance goals can resonate.

  • Employees understand why the goals are important.
  • They believe the goals are achievable.
  • They know how to achieve them.
  • They believe they have what it takes to achieve them.
  • They believe they have the support they need from the company in order to achieve them.
  • They believe that everyone in the company has more or less the same opportunity to achieve them, at least in the long run.
  1. Initiative that leads to self-sufficiency.

To fulfill their responsibilities to the rest of the team, employees should take the initiative that is necessary to become self-sufficient in tasks for which they are solely responsible and which contribute to the success of the team.

How do you coach employees to achieve self-sufficiency?  Here are the 6 steps that are explained in more detail in my article from 8/12/2019 entitled Creating Self-Sufficiency.

  • “Here’s what to do.” (The directive stage.)
  • “Here’s how to do it.”  (The explanation stage.)
  • “Here’s why to do it that way.”  (The belief stage.)
  • “Will you do it? When?”  (The all-important commitment stage, including the deadline.)
  • “Call me after you’ve done it and tell me how it went.”  (The debriefing stage.)
  • “Can you do it by yourself next time?”  (Self-sufficiency.)

This process not only gives the payoff of employee confidence in taking initiative, there’s also a huge payoff for you in terms of time management.

This spirit of self-sufficiency you’ve inspired in them also paves the way for the next step, where you tell them:

  • “Whenever you bring me a problem, bring me your proposal for a solution.”
  1. Improving, and helping others to improve.

Lead your employees to celebrate the joy of improving with the same enthusiasm that they celebrates the joy of success.  And lead them to enjoy the satisfaction of helping their teammates to improve by honoring this special kind of initiative. 

How can you tell if employees are truly motivated?  Is it because they radiate energy and enthusiasm?  Is it that they show a strong desire to succeed?  Certainly these are valuable assets for achieving success.  But the surest proof of true motivation is the desire to improve every day.  When you see a person who keeps striving to improve – even on days when they don’t have energy or enthusiasm, but only the faith that if they keep improving, their success will take care of itself – that is motivation in its purest form.

  1. Integrity

In a culture of integrity, dishonesty is never, ever tolerated.  It’s that simple, and circumstances don’t make it more complicated.

Employees profoundly respect a leader who honors and enforces that standard of integrity consistently, and who expects it of everyone on the team every day.  Employees know the courage it takes to be that kind of leader – a leader who will protect the integrity of the team, even under pressure.  It inspires a whole new kind of confidence in a team.  It’s like breathing cleaner air, or drinking cleaner water.  It replaces the negative energy of suspicion, skepticism and fear with the positive energy of trust, respect and steadfastness.

  1. Communication

Since communication is an infinite topic, here I’m just going to look at communication in the context of high standards.  More specifically, what is it that we want to communicate in order to have positive influence and instill high standards?  Why do we want to communicate it? And then how do we want to communicate it? 

Let’s start with the what.  I’ll pick 4 headings of things that need to be communicated.

  • Standards and expectations.
  • Information, decisions and explanations.
  • Ideas.
  • Support.

Now the why.  We communicate in order to:

  • Convey information.
  • Create mutual understanding.
  • Inspire.
  • Instill purpose.
  • Build connection.

Now comes the question of how to communicate in a way that helps you resonate most effectively with the people you lead.  I want to emphasize the term resonate – striking a chord with people – relating to them.

Here are the main qualities that help you resonate in your communication.  And by the way, all of these things apply no matter what kind of personality or temperament you may have.  No matter what your personality, you will resonate more if your communication style is:

  • Passionate
  • Compassionate
  • Supportive
  • Consistent
  • Truthful
  • Confident
  • Complete

That’s the what, why and how of a communication style that expresses and reinforces the culture of high standards that you want your team to commit to.

  1. Resolution

Encourage a team mentality where people don’t want to leave things dangling.  People want to finish what they start, wrapping things up with no loose ends.  They want to achieve solutions.  They persevere with a “What will it take?” mentality, as opposed to an “I’ll do what I can in the limited time I have” mentality.  Things are completed – conversations, decisions, even thought processes.

A resolution-focused mindset helps you to:

  • Achieve goals.
  • Instill win-win thinking.
  • Inspire self-sufficiency as well as strong teamwork.
  • Create a culture of confidence.
  • Instill a commitment to following through and meeting expectations.
  • Lead more efficient and more productive meetings.
  • Instill a commitment to greater efficiency and less wasted time.
  • Encourage everyone to suggest solutions to their problems.