Solomon Bruce Consulting Blog

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Standards are Too High, I Can Go To Another Place And Do a Good Job

   The title was what a business owner told me yesterday when his key manager elected to leave her position with his firm!  The owner was not totally surprised, he had become more demanding of his manager in the past several months.  Not that he ever was ugly or difficult, however, he has high expectations and expected the manager to reach and exceed those expectations.
    Interestingly, the manager left a $43,000 year job to go to _____________________ Nothing!  She has been out of work for 3 months after moving to Los Angeles with her boyfriend.  The business owner told me that she had emailed a couple of times wondering if any of job application submissions had called and checked her references.  Even more interesting was the fact that business owner told me that only one firm did contact him, and then the position was only a $15/hour job, in California!  I read that as a substantial pay cut because she could not adhere to her bosses standards.
   Standards are the bar that you set as the owner of the business.  There is nothing wrong with high standards-- in fact, you should set high standards for all of your employees.  The truth is that the business is your's-- nobody else's!  What happens in the business is a direct reflection upon you-- and only you!
    In today's turbulent, anything goes society, standards are something that many folks find totally foreign.  In this case, the manager was in her late 20's, had been in the industry several years and was a great employee and initially, was a good manager.  However, the longer she was in management, given greater responsibility and held accountable for the performance of her subordinates, the more difficult  it became.  The owner, understandably more frustrated each month, decided to "tighten the screws".  His intent was not to have the employee quit, however, that was the end result.
   How do you prevent this from happening at your firm?  First is to clearly identify the standards and performance expectations prior to commencing employment.  Develop and publish clear, written expectations of each employee and each position in your firm.  This seems tough and difficult-- there is some work involved here, however, in the end, the process is well worth it.
   Review the expectations and standards with a prospective employee before you extend a hire offer.  Be real clear about what you will tolerate and what you will not tolerate.  This is totally "black and white".  If the applicant has hesitancy or doubt about being able to fulfill the standards, it is better identified in the hiring process than after becoming an employee!  There will be more work on your part to have to review the standards however, the exception is that those employees that you ultimately hire will clearly understand the expectations on day 1.
    Setting the bar high is a good thing.  The higher the bar is set, the fewer people will be able to jump over it, however, those that do will normally turn out to be your best employees.  Additionally, a high bar allows folks to brag that they were able to achieve and exceed your expectations and standards.  This is a good thing!


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