Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Rules vs. Standards: Installing vs. Instilling

It's tempting to overcome performance issues by installing more rules and processes. It's done every day - you know, the "42-step process to ensure quality control" or the "15 rules of customer service."

I'm not a big fan of processes, but I agree that a smart process is great. I just dislike processes that are used to protect people from themselves. Often, those result in people having little to no ownership.

There is an alternative to more processes: Instead of installing, instill. Set standards for your team. Give them a chance to figure how, together, they can achieve those standards.

Think about it: What will inspire better teamwork - establishing the "17-step process to teamwork" or setting standards or expectations for your team? I think the latter. I'd rather my team realize that there are standards for them to live up to and allow them to find ways to do just that. That's far better than letting them rely on a process to do that.

Think of the end result you want; think of how your team or company performs on its best day. Establish the standards you expect that are needed to achieve that "best day." Communicate them.

It's more inspiring to instill than it is to install.

Barry LaBov
CEO, LaBov and Beyond

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