Previously, I discussed how excellence and mediocrity are contagious and how either can infect an organization and elevate or sink performance levels. Just as a star performer can inspire every member of the team to be better, mediocrity is like a cancer that goes undetected while undermining the organization until substantial damage is done.
Genuinely understanding the need to build a culture of excellence is an important first step, but it is only the first. The difficult task is creating it. As much as senior managers crave immediate results, cultures of excellence don’t sprout overnight or quickly blossom.
They evolve over time after expectations of excellence are methodically communicated throughout the organization and people at every level are contributing and achieving their best.
Excellence isn’t necessarily how you measure up against competitors since it is, after all, possible to exist in a lackluster marketplace. It is the degree to which you are able to consistently achieve your potential and push yourself and your team members to continuously get better.
“Good enough” is never acceptable in a culture of excellence.
Given the high percentage of corporate initiatives that fail – some experts say 60 to 90 percent– the journey toward excellence can be riddled with pitfalls.
Excellence is defined differently for each organization and some leaders can’t clearly characterize and communicate what constitutes excellence. The result is that they have difficulty knowing whether they are achieving it.
Excellence is achieved when you raise the performance level of every member of the team. However, most managers focus too much attention on under performers while high performers often go unrecognized and unrewarded.
The culture of excellence begins when the leader creates and communicates a vision for what excellence looks, develops and implements strategies for achieving it, and holds all members of the organization accountable for sustaining it over time.
In addition to that, senior managers must constantly measure the quality of service being delivered to customers and clients and provide feedback to team members on how well they are doing.
Every member of the team must know why excellent customer service is important and be held accountable for delivering it.
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