What is your standard?

Last year, my son-in-law told me that he and my daughter were the perfect parents, until something happened one day: they had children. In their case, they got two together – twins.

Each parent has different views on how to raise children. Each generation also has different views. The older generation has a view about discipline, activities, material items, etc. They have forgotten how difficult parenting can be and that there is no such thing as perfection when it comes to parenting.

My wife and I recently spent a week minding the twins, and it was a valuable reminder that we struggled with our own children at times. It made me realise that the standard for successful parenting could be best described as “adequacy” –  doing the best you can with the resources you have in the times you live in.

Perfection is a flawed standard

In business, when we assess staff performance, we generally put them into the following categories:

  1. Poor
  2. Mediocre
  3. Adequate
  4. Perfect

The trouble is, we want our staff to be perfect. But, like the judges at gymnastics and ice skating, nobody ever gives their staff a perfect score. That is because we are applying a subjective metric as the standard.

Perfection is a myth. We often expect people to deliver to a standard that we have not articulated, that may not benefit the customer or the business and, in fact, is just a personal preference.

Our standards should meet the expectations of the customer in whatever context they are delivered. For example, we will have a different expectation of how a meal at McDonald’s is delivered versus a meal at a five-star restaurant. When explaining to staff the standard a task requires, we need to explain why that standard is important.

Prior to telling them, we must ask ourselves what is important about this task and ensure that we’re not basing that importance on our subjective preferences. Often, standards can be raised by listening to an employee and considering their suggestions for ways of doing the job better or quicker.

Fixating on perfection guarantees that you never have a staff member you are happy with.

If you’re struggling with setting standards for your business and staff, I can help you find the clarity you need. Email me at bryan@bryanworn.com.

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