November 27, 2015

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5/13/02 Benevolent Boss May Drop The Ball

Imagine a pre-game interview with the coach of the underdog Super Bowl team: ďIíd like to win the game, but itís more important that my team members are happy and have a great time. If we lose, being No. 2 isnít bad.Ē You wonít hear that from a winning coach. Everyone on a pro team must focus on getting the ball across the goal more times than the competition within a restricted amount of time ó or next season, the coach will be replaced. Period.

Many of todayís business books focus on making employees happy, but thatís not my main goal. Making my business a success is the goal. Having happy employees is my desire. If we can accomplish our goal while having a wonderful work environment and happy employees, thatís a big win. If we miss our goal but have happy employees, we have failed, because those happy employees may lose their jobs and I could lose my business.

Our mission in running a business is to concentrate on our goals (profitability) and make sure everyone on our team is doing the same. Completing a job is never enough. It must be done with excellence, and excellence requires high standards.

At Radio Ink, everyone must meet a deadline for the printer. If we miss it, the printer begins another job, delaying our publication and distribution for an additional week. A late issue means that our credibility suffers, our advertisers donít get their message out, and we are not paid on time. Everything suffers.

On deadline day, what if we discover that several articles were done poorly? Do we accept it and try to make it better next time? Or do we call in everyone to fix it? What if itís our editorís birthday, and he has guests coming to dinner? Do we make an exception, so his wife wonít make his life miserable, or do we make him come to work?

At that moment, Iím the most unpopular boss in town ó definitely not loved by my employees. Enforcing high standards sometimes makes them despise me. It takes extraordinary effort ó unreasonable demands on time and energy ó to produce greatness. Itís not always fun.

When faced with a difficult challenge, you often have to prod your staff: ďWe can do an okay job and have some fun ó or we can do a killer job, work our fingers to the bone and make some sacrifices, but weíll have something to be proud of.Ē People usually choose excellence. Those who donít should work where mere completion is the standard.

If greatness is in your plans, you must set and maintain high standards. Sometimes your employees will loathe you, but my personal experience says that high standards make the happiest employees, even though they may experience pain. There is no feeling like being part of a winning team. Choose greatness. Your employees will hate you for it.

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