Raising Expectations and Performance

We always compare performance on a relative basis. “Well, it’s better than it was last month…”

My toddler son, for example, seems like a freaking genius compared to the baby he used to be.

Some people around us have embraced a strategy of always lowering expectations so that mediocre effort is seen as acceptable.

Over time, we embrace the pretty good memo, the so-so presentation, or the decent leadership moment, because it’s so much better than we feared.

And some? Some relentlessly raise expectations, establishing a standard that it’s hard to imagine exceeding.

And then people do.

If you are working with, or lead by someone in the first group, an intervention can be rewarding. For you and for the person trapped in this downward cycle.

Raising our expectations is a fine way to raise performance as well.

And no, working more hours is not the same as raising performance, just as working fewer hours is not the same as dropping performance.

It is about the quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of hours worked. Not quantity.

And in the case individual performance is actually dropping, the plentitude of reasons can be split into three buckets;

1) Personal issues (family, health, etc)

2) Engagement issues (engagement to the vision, interest in work, leadership, politics)

3) Skill issues (does not have the right skills to do the job)

The first bucket needs support, the second bucket needs re-alignment, the third bucket needs training or replacing.

If you see someone’s performance dropping address it immediately.

Have hard conversations first.

Never underestimate how much one individual’s performance will impact team performance.

In a nutshell: Raise expectations and address individual performance problems immediately.

Originally published at https://www.henricodolfing.com.

Written by

I help C-level executives in the financial service industry with interim management and recovering troubled technology projects.

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