When NOT Exceeding Expectations Is OK...

We closed last time with a commitment to address scenarios where team members refuse to exceed expectations. Before I jump into that, I need to call your attention to something that will absolutely exceed YOUR expectations: the virtual LIVE2LEAD:Harrisonburg experience that Cindy and I will be hosting this Friday! There’s so much value (and bonus content) packed into this event that I just can’t fit it all in here… Check it out for yourself!

So when is NOT exceeding expectations acceptable? Believe it or not, there are times where it’s OK. If we don’t mind our customers and team members having an average experience, we don’t need to put in that little bit of extra effort and we don’t need to worry about maintaining a standard for what our team members strive to deliver. That will work just fine in a booming economy where every Joe out there has plenty of money to spend…

But we don’t build the kind of loyalty that brings a customer back over and over again (or keeps the best employees on our team long term) by being average - by just barely meeting expectations (at best). And when we tighten our belts in a tougher economy, average products and services may not be enough to bring home the bacon…

So are there really times where we don’t need to exceed expectations? Maybe, I just can’t point to any! If that’s the case, what steps do we need to take when someone on our team just isn’t willing to take the necessary steps to provide this level of service (and value) to each person they serve?

First, we need to be extremely sure that we’ve been clear in defining what exceeding expectations should look like. Assuming that’s happened and we need to address a situation where someone has dropped the ball, we need to be equally clear in explaining how their performance did make the grade. Please understand this tough, this should never be a personal attack! Addressing it with our entire team and hoping the one person who needs to hear it will get the message isn’t addressing it… Even if we do need to cover it with the group for training purposes, we still need to have a one on one conversation with the individual so they know what is and what is not acceptable. And we absolutely cannot ignore it for any period of time with hopes that it will magically get better… Not addressing an issue actually sends that person the message that what they’re doing is OK!

Alan Mulally gives some great examples of how he handled situations like this during his 2020 Live2Lead session - but I won’t spoil that for you here; you’ll get way more value from hearing him explain it on Friday! (and I want to exceed your expectations!)

As we turn the corner from creating a great customer experience, I’d emphasize again how many parallels these steps have to creating a great culture in our organizations. In the next post, we’ll take a look at how similar what I just covered is to having a tough disciplinary conversation with a team member...

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