“You can't have high standards without good discipline” – William Hague
As kids, we first learn about measurement and benchmarking at school. From a test or a school report, we find out whether we’ve passed or failed and what we either need to continue to do to maintain our marks or do differently to get a better grade. The minimum standard is a pass; however, our own expectations (and that of our parents!!!) could be somewhat higher. What’s your secret to doing better than the minimum standard?
In sports, we understand how we’re performing by either a score, a time, the winner or the loser. The thrill of victory or the frustration of defeat adds purpose to the training. How dedicated the individual or team are to improving can be relative to the standard of competition; a lot at the elite level or not so much at the lower or social levels.
Benchmarking in business is also critical to understand two very important questions:
Where are we now?
Where do we want to be?
For instance, if the result is less than targeted expectations and there’s no adjustment in effort or actions then it’s likely expectations won’t be met again. On the other hand, focused activity can lead to far superior results.
The company who increased sales revenue
An example of this is a medium sized business who weren’t achieving their sales targets. When a new Sales Manager investigated this a little more, he found the issue was really one of customer coverage in that the sales team were only getting five of the targeted eight face to face customer meetings each week. The Sales Manager reinforced with the team how eight was the target, but it didn’t realise the level of improvement he was looking for.
Delving a little deeper it became apparent the team had poor time management skills and didn’t know how to leverage the technology available to them. In essence, they were struggling to keep up with the expected pace which in turn caused them to be too reactive to customer demands.
That’s where I got involved with a productivity initiative. Pretty soon the team was able to improve revenue from the extra customer meetings they were having each week. The real kicker was the additional time the initiative unlocked enabled them to be more proactive by having more meaningful conversations with their customers.
How does this relate to you?
If you’re not reaching your targeted outcomes, then you need to understand what’s stopping you. While it’s easy to blame others, start with understanding:
How important is it to you – does it stop you from performing your job effectively or is it impacting you personally (like keeping you awake at night)
What can you do to change your situation – look at how others do it; the best, those who are middle of the road and those who fail. Who are you mirroring?
Determine if it's for you – get very specific at what you'll do differently. Measure, reflect and make the necessary adjustments to achieve success.
The book Peopleware (by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister) says it best: “Count on the best people outperforming the worst by about 10:1.”
Decide whether you want to be ranked with the best or the worst…….