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November 13, 2018 | Dale Halm

Demanding Excellence

Are you demanding excellence? Frankly, most people, most organizations, are settling for less. Over my twenty-five years of experience working in the high-technology sector and the utility industry one thing has stood out above all else. What overshadows most organizations is the overriding sense of frustration and discontent that most employees experience. What you hear these people consistently say is, "This place is so screwed up. Why doesn’t somebody do something about it? Things should work better around here." Variations on this theme include: "management is clueless − they don’t get it," or "things will never change around here." Sound familiar?

Whether employees are referring to office politics, a lack of accountability by others, or ineffective systems, they express an intense dissatisfaction with the way things are. Everyone knows things could be more efficient and that co-workers could work together much more effectively. Underneath these complaints is the propensity for people to operate from an "it’s not me, it's you" mentality.

I have witnessed firsthand the drama, victimization, and malaise that run rampant in so many businesses. Achieving organizational excellence is fundamental to creating highly-functional and successful institutions. It is the key that unlocks a person’s potential to engage with others to produce outstanding results.

Observe fans watching a football game. Notice how when their team fails to execute, they can’t tolerate poor performance. They expect excellence from every player on every play. They believe teammates should give each other feedback and make adjustments in real-time. They presume everyone on the team will work together, no matter what, to carry out the game plan. The fans demand excellence. Yet, at work or in our personal relationships, we often avoid addressing concerns head-on. We ignore or overlook things. We don’t demand excellence from one another. Blame, avoidance, criticizing, and putting up with the status quo is how we play the game. In other words, we exchange mediocracy for excellence.

So when will you start demanding excellence of yourself and others? Creating a high-performance culture is not about being nice, it’s about being effective. This is a crucial distinction you must make − this is the game-changer that must be acted on if you truly want your organization to excel. The key is to clearly define what excellence is and then start holding yourself and others accountable. In football, teams huddle between each play. They quickly address what needs to done differently, they coach each other to make real time adjustments. There is no use in getting defensive, straight-talk is a must, and acting on feedback is essential. This is being effective, this is what demanding excellence looks like in action.

If you want more satisfying relationships or to be part of a high-performance organization get busy demanding excellence of yourself of others. Settle for nothing less. This is how greatness is achieved.