245: Getting Your Team to Meet Your Standards

14 Minutes Read

Welcome to the first of this mini-series of episodes specifically devoted to leadership. Whether you have a team of 1 or 100, these episodes will help you be more clear and confident in your leadership so you can get the results you want for your business.

When managing a team, most business owners and leaders find themselves on one end or the other of the Standards Spectrum:

  1. They either leave their desires so vague that their team has no chance of meeting them, or
  2. They are so detailed about everything that they micromanage out the magic.

Today's episode will teach you how to avoid both of these unhappy points of the Standards Spectrum and create a work environment that your people love and that gets results which grow your business.

You will discover:

  • How to give your team autonomy while still holding high standards
  • How to create a culture of success rather than rule-following, which will help your people access their fullest potentials in service of your highest standards
  • The massive price of not holding your people to high standards, and how to stop paying it at your company

And if you haven't already joined the Superabound Collective, now is the time! It is a community of soulful business owners like you where you can get support with the challenges of leadership. And it's free for a limited time.

Learn more and join the Collective here.


Episode Transcript

Erin Aquin  0:01  
Welcome to the Superabound podcast with master coaches Steve Haase and Erin Aquin, where business owners like you learn the tools to help you clarify vision, clear up static and overcome challenges. You're listening to episode number 245: Getting your team to meet your standards. Hi, everybody. Okay, we are going to be talking about something that has been coming up a lot for our clients recently. And that is, what to do when you are a business owner or leader who has high standards. But maybe your team is not really great at meeting them. We're going to teach you today how to help your team help the human beings, the wonderful people that are supporting you and your company actually rise to meet your standards and how their work can get better. And this is all part of a little special podcast series here on aspects of leadership. So for the next couple of episodes, you're going to hear topics that are really focused on leadership, we have a special guest coming up soon, who will share a lot of insights. And I wanted to tell you that because I know that sometimes solo entrepreneurs will hear that and think, Oh, this is not relevant to me, I run things alone, I'm a I'm a lone wolf. Well, we actually hope that you will stick around for these next few episodes, even if you don't have a team. Because these are some of the things that you will need to know as you transition. If you are committed to growing your company in a long term sustainable way, you're going to need other people. Hey, I can't do it all. So we hope that you'll stick around, you'll learn these things. And if you're newer to business, or you just don't have a team yet, keep these episodes in your back pocket. If you are a leader and you feel like you're ripping out your hair, we got you, this is for you. So here we go. Welcome, Steve.

Steve Haase  2:13  
Hi, Erin. Hello, everyone, nice to be here with you. This topic is so important because as a leader, if people aren't meeting your standards, it can feel like you're speaking a different language, but you're just not connecting. And it's already hard enough and lonely enough to be in charge. And when this is happening, it makes it even worse. So finding out how to get people to meet your standards, it's one of the most effective ways to feeling like everything's clicking, like everyone knows what they're up to. And they're doing work that's actually moving your company forward. So the place we want to begin is actually not in your job descriptions, or anything that you can actually look at on paper, it's within you

Erin Aquin  3:08  
think there's kind of like two broad camps, there is the camp where you're the kind of leader who has a dream for how everything should look and feel in your company. And you're not the best at articulating it. And you're not the best about giving feedback. So if you want a customer experiences that that is very high touch, and you want your clients to be greeted at every step of their journey, you want someone to do follow up phone calls with them to see how their experience was. But you just keep that to yourself. Of course, your team is not going to meet that standard, because you didn't actually clearly say your job is to follow up with everybody who came to this workshop personally, on the phone, get their feedback and put it in a spreadsheet. If you just say, one of the things I like to create is a high level experience for our clients. And you assume that your team knows what that's supposed to be like, or what your interpretation or standard of that is, you're gonna probably be disappointed. So the very first, I think, type of leader that struggles with this is the one who has a high standard that is very clear in their mind, but is not being articulated in a way that their team can understand and respond to.

Steve Haase  4:32  
Exactly So on the one hand is the leader who has a very lofty vision of how things should be but doesn't really communicate it on the other side is the leader who communicates every single thing that they want. And so then the staff is able to do all the things that you want, but there's no spark. There's no magic coming from the people that are working for you. Because you've kind of engineered out With all of the room for magic, on this side of the spectrum, what you're basically doing is you're micromanaging out the magic. Let's say you have a cleaning company, and the people who go in to clean the houses that go through the whole checklist, what that enables for you is you're going to know that the product will be good, but the product may not be great, because you can't put those special human connections into a checklist, such as the way that they greet the homeowner, if they're around, or the way that they interact with the kids. Those are things that you can't really put on the checklist. Or if you did, they certainly wouldn't be natural, and actually have that spark.

Erin Aquin  5:38  
I mean, on the topic of a cleaning company, I actually remember we had a cleaning service where they just followed a checklist, they were not very personable, it was really expensive, did not feel like a human thing. And we did not use them more than once, just like as a, just from a customer perspective here for a second. And then we worked with someone who came in and she would talk to my kids, my daughter was really young and would like want to be in the room, probably not the greatest. But she would like let her be in the room and organize her books. And she would see how she folded the clothes. And it was like a very personal thing in something like a very, I mean, having your house clean is a very personal thing. And we loved working with this person. So you can engineer out the magic. And I mean, funny enough, it usually when someone is a lead type of leader who engineers out or micromanage is out the magic, it's because they don't trust the people in their company to really reach the standard. So they have to spell out everything. So I'm not saying you shouldn't spell it out, I think I think it's actually an easier fix for somebody who has too many steps to remove some of those and, you know, bring back in a little more of the magic, then for someone who has, as you said, Steve, like a loftier vision that they haven't articulated, that can be a trickier, trickier business. But either way, in order to get people to meet your standard, you do need a combination of being clear, having some kind of a process that you follow. But I think maybe the magic ingredient for this to really work is to make sure that the people who are in your company on your team, understand your vision, and are aligned with your values. Because we are not going to get very far whether we have checklists, or whether we have nothing but hope that people will read our minds, we're not going to get very far if we're working with people who are not a match for the vision and value of what the company is trying to do.

Steve Haase  7:55  
So the question is, how do we get people to meet your standards? And Erin just touched on it, the most important point is to actually articulate what those standards are. If someone is working for you, and they're on your team, but they don't know what winning looks like, they're going to be doing their best. But it's never going to actually hit the mark, because they won't know what is expected. What is it that they're actually trying to achieve? The interesting thing here, like the balance that I think many leaders miss, is allowing someone the freedom and autonomy to function in their own way, while getting the results that the company is paying them to get. What can be tempting here is if you're someone who's just letting people to have their autonomy, and you're like, Yeah, you're right, but they're not meeting my standards, because all they have is autonomy, the temptation is to just swing to the other side of the spectrum and write down all the things that they need to be doing. But the secret is to actually find that space in the middle, where your standards relate to the results, not necessarily to the process. Because if you have great people who are on board with your vision, and resonate with your values, then they're gonna have ways of doing things that will hopefully surprise and delight you. And when you don't articulate all the things they need to be doing. But instead you say, This is what winning looks like for you. This is the result that your role is here to deliver to the company, then that frees them up to get creative to do it in their own way to find the work that they're most interested in doing most suited to do, that they can do better than anybody else. So how do you get somebody to meet your standards, you clearly articulate the result that they are there to deliver. And then you can have all kinds of conversations about whether the project they're working on or whether the process that they're using will actually You get them there or not, then you can actually be a supportive person, for them to achieve that target that you've both agreed on.

Erin Aquin  10:08  
Yeah, because I mean, I hear so many business owners now complaining about like, no one can think for themselves and like having all sorts of judgments and criticisms of, of people on their team. But then when we kind of dive into how things are done, it's because a lot of times, people are being stuffed into a process thinking that that's the one and only way to get a result. And if you have great minds on your team, and you have vision and value aligned people, then by maybe giving them a little more space to test out and realize different processes, maybe the new next best practice in your company playbook is alive and well in the brain of someone who already works for you. And you're never going to see it, if you have one specific mechanical way that things should be done. Now, I know for some businesses, this isn't going to be relevant, like, you know, if you're performing brain surgery, there's a checklist that you do want everyone to follow. You don't want the surgeon to like test out a new hand washing routine, you probably just want them to follow the hospital policy. So I you know, we're not talking necessarily about things that are better suited to processes. But I mean, even in those cases, a lot of times those checklists are designed to eliminate decisions, to eliminate having to think so that we can save our minds power for the really important task at hand. I always feel a little bit bad, because we're opening up a really big can of worms here that we could not possibly solve for everyone in one short podcast. But I think it is worth looking at how you teach people in your company, how you define what success looks like. And notice the difference between whether you're teaching a process, or whether you are requiring a specific outcome, I'm sure that people at the coffee shop have found like the best possible way to make a cappuccino according to the owner standard. But it's not about the process. It is actually about the way that drink tastes, to me the customer. I mean, just to even it's kind of a silly example. But it's a good one, someone could follow the quote unquote, perfect process. But if the milk is bad, that's going to be disgusting. And if you haven't created a culture where someone in your company has the freedom and autonomy to give the milk, a sniff, to make sure it's all good. If they're just following a checklist, and that's the culture you've created, you are going to be frustrated. And no matter how well it's executed, it actually won't be quality work of a high standard, because you have you're not really utilizing the best of, of the minds that you have.

Steve Haase  13:21  
This is such an important conversation. Because if you're leading a business, and you have a team, you are in the business of helping your people rise to their best. And there are endless ways to do this. It's it's it's literally your main job as the business owner as the visionary. And it's something that we want to continue helping you with, we can't possibly touch on everything that's involved in this topic during a single podcast. But we do want to continue that conversation with you. So if this is something that you want to have more support with, and really explore in more depth, come join us in the Superabound collective. It is a magical community of business owners and leaders. And you can learn more and sign up for free at besuperabound.com/collective. So maybe now you've realized that you're either micromanaging out the magic, or you haven't been clear about what your standards actually are. And you have a plan for moving forward, you're you're gonna you want to find that sweet middle spot that actually brings you to one of the biggest problems that I've seen with business owners is that of not wanting to be mean, even though it's often portrayed in the media, you know that the boss is rough and Graffin tells it like it is. I've actually run into far more people who are a bit more human with their interactions with employees and people on their team, especially if they're working really closely together. Where they just want to be liked. They want to be nice. They don't want to be mean or perceived as such. And what that does is it actually gets in the way of you being able to hold those standards, it creates an experience where you know that things aren't right. But because you don't want to be mean, you don't tell people that things aren't right. And so the person for whom things are, for whom things are least right is yourself, there is this big gap within you, between how you want to be responding and the business that you want to have, and the ways that you're actually responding in the business that you do have. And that gap between what you see and what you are actually creating is, first of all, it's very solvable. And it is the source of a lot of frustration. And that frustration, the way you'll know that you're experiencing that frustration, is you're doing a lot of things yourself, or you're complaining about people on your team. So if you find yourself redoing work, and not mentioning it, or complaining about people on your team, not to the people, you know, you're not actually giving feedback, you're just telling other people about folks on your team, then that means you are living with this gap. And it's taking a big toll on your mind. And on your company. Yeah,

Erin Aquin  16:19  
and it's costing you as, as coaches, we do try to deal with that very quickly. But over the years, this has come up just so many times. So I want you to know that if you are currently paying people on your team, feeling like you're basically paying a salary to not have a difficult conversation, you're not alone. This is not not to shame you at all. I have been there, we have all been there. And that is why learning how to articulate this. And finding that sort of middle ground is so important. Because until you really articulate what your standards are, and you manage your people support your people to create a process that allows them to get the result that you're expecting them to get. You won't know what they're capable of. And it's so easy to write people off and say, Oh, well, you know, I just it was a bad hire, or was it like a, you know, maybe they're not as smart as they claimed to be in their interview. I just think that's so diminishing, because maybe they are not the right fit. Maybe the person was not honest, who knows. But at the end of the day, we can't know for sure whether what this person is capable of if you don't tell them what it is you want and offer a few possible pathways or let them offer some pathways towards success.

Steve Haase  17:47  
That's such a powerful point, that your biggest achievement as a leader is helping people discover and live up to their own greatness. If you can create a company, a work environment, where people are their best, and are doing things that they are so proud of that are maybe even beyond what they had imagined they could do. And that is a crown jewel in your in your work as a leader and a business owner. And so really the cost, like you were saying, Erin, the cost of achieving that is simply having that difficult conversation. That's all it comes down to is that moment of awkwardness. You might feel awkward, you might feel, you know, like you're stepping into dangerous territory, and that's okay. But it's that moment where you say, what you're doing is not meeting the mark, this is what we need. How can we get there? How can I support you? It's a moment where you are on the same side as your team member. I think a big part of the reason people are afraid of that conversation is because they think of it as an adversarial thing, even if the end result is that person no longer being part of your company. Yeah,

Erin Aquin  19:01  
I know a business owner very well, who was having a lot of issues with the quality of work and some points of integrity with someone on her assistant team and had been avoiding the conversation. I'd say this was a this was a friend not a client because I would never let one of my clients have with this conversation for five months. But she avoided it for a good five months. And when she finally sat down to just say listen, I don't know what's going on but like something just doesn't feel right. That's all she said. She didn't actually, you know, come in hot with some big, like, master plan to fix it. During that conversation. The person actually decided to quit. And I tell you it was the best thing that happened to my friend and her business. It was very amicable. They just realized that they had grown apart the business has gone in direction that this person you know wasn't as as into as when she started, there was just a lot kind of that needed to be unpacked. And they had a real human conversation that resulted in the decision to no longer work together. And it could have been so much messier. Had, she waited another minute, because the resentment building up between them was real. And you know that these two people are still in contact, it's not a, you know that they will say hello to each other on the street. It's not like some horrible, adversarial thing, but it needed to happen to free up both of them. So that's another way I love to look at this. I know most of us did not get any training on how to lead people or manage people, I certainly did not. I'm lucky enough to be a coach that I can sit beside someone with curiosity and ask the awkward questions. But if that's not your strong suit, it can be as easy as I'm noticing. There's something that's off, I'm noticing that the thing that we agreed to when you came into this role, the thing you said you would create the the lanterns we decided we would have you light in the next six months, I noticed that those aren't happening, or there have maybe they're happening in a way that that doesn't align with our vision and values any longer. And I want to know what we can do to change that. If this is if this is still going to work. I know those words can be hard to say. But you have to, I think this is kind of where the magic comes back, is you have to trust that if you are trying to create something that has positive impact in the world, that positive impact cannot happen when this bottleneck exists. The beauty and possibility all lies on the other side of this awkward conversation.

Steve Haase  21:50  
That's so true. So if you want to help with those awkward conversations, if you want to share some of the bottlenecks that you might be experiencing, we're having those conversations in the Superabound collective. Well, we're not actually having those conversations, but we're talking about what it is like to create high standards, make them clear, and help people rise to those. So we'd love to see you there. It's at besuperabound.com/collective. Totally free to join. And it's a very special place for business owners and leaders.

Erin Aquin  22:26  
And if you need more than a community, which I think a lot of folks listening to this podcast probably do. You can learn more about how to work with us, you can kind of get a feel from our vibe from the collective. But also, it's the best way to get in touch with us personally and how we can work with you directly or support you as you train your team to meet and maybe even exceed those high and beautiful standards you have. So we look forward to seeing you in the collective and beyond. Have a great day

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