Raising the Bar When it Comes to Standards

Apr 27, 2017 | Business Strategy, The ONE Thing | 0 comments

Raising the bar when it comes to standards

When it comes to running a business, planning for success can be tricky. In addition to holding the keys and the compass, oftentimes, we’re charting out our own road map for success as we go along. In a world full of answers, casting out a vision and figuring out what makes our organization thrive and prosper can be difficult. So, how do we set ourselves up for sure-fire success?

The simple answer is to focus on just ONE thing: standards.

Standards are benchmarks for success in all avenues of our businesses. Whether they’re centered on productivity, character, engagement, or results—a business’ standards often determine its aptitude for achievement.

Every business is different, markets shift, and we are constantly battling our way into uncharted territory as we grow. The only foolproof way to navigate through change and expansion is to set standards, teach them to others, and hold our businesses accountable to sticking to them.

Getting started on identifying the standards in your own business can sometimes be difficult if you’ve never asked the question before. To help you get started, we’ve identified three key areas where standards should be strictly defined and adhered to for any successful business—no matter its size, industry, and objectives.


After months full of hard work, you’ve finally gotten your business up and running. But you feel like you’re wasting valuable time dealing with everyday minutia: checking messages, updating schedules, filling out paperwork. All signs point toward the need for help.

It’s easy to want to give the job to the first competent person who walks through the door, but long-term success often requires a thoughtful pursuit of talent. When looking for an ideal hire, it is important to set a series of standards and goals for every person who works for you. Take a moment to look at the successful people you know. What qualities do they share? Make note of these traits, and see if potential employees share these same qualities. Ask yourself:

  1. What qualifications do they need to have now?
  2. How do I see this position changing over time?
  3. How does this person think?
  4. How does this person respond to adversity?
  5. What opportunities do you see this person growing into?
  6. What do their qualifications need to be in the future?

Asking these questions helps us set a series of criteria for new talent, one that allows us to look for people that meet both our current and future needs. Creating standardized benchmarks for talent is essential for growth, and provides employees with a model for hiring more talent. Each person we hire becomes a key component to reaching higher levels of achievement – make sure you hold them accountable to your standards!


Faced with challenges, it can be alluring to try and take the easy way out when it comes to goal-setting for your organization. Can’t make your numbers this quarter? Lower the goal! We’re all guilty of shorting ourselves at times. However, this sort of thinking is limiting, and promotes the idea that goals are more important than actions and outcomes.

This is where your standards come into play again. Instead of lowering a goal to align with your current output, create a goal that is difficult to reach, and make that goal immovable.

Bigger goals require us to take bigger steps. You may not reach it this year, or even the next. But giving yourself something high to aim for gives you a steeper trajectory for growth. As you break off pieces of the larger goal into smaller and more attainable pieces, you will find that both you and your business are able to achieve things you wouldn’t have otherwise achieved.

Setting standards around the goals you set both professionally and personally helps push you, and those who work for you, toward great things!


Be honest: how often do we let ourselves get away with things we know we wouldn’t allow others to do? Sure, you set aside an hour for time blocking, but did you really get work done? Or did you allow yourself to become distracted?

Giving ourselves standards is equally, if not more important, than making sure we have standards in place for others within our businesses.

It’s true what they say, “monkey see, monkey do.” If we set a standard for our businesses, but don’t strive to meet it ourselves, can we expect others in our organizations to do the same? When we meet the standards we set, we’re given the authority to hold them accountable to being met by others.

Maybe you aren’t as good at time blocking as you should be. Maybe you have a habit of showing up to work late. Set standards for yourself. Give yourself goals, both personal and professional, and make them permanent focal points. You might not meet all of them right away, but without them, you will fall short of being the best leader you can be.

Taking time to articulate your standards and create a model for yourself and others can be challenging. But, solidifying your ideas helps set goals that will take your business to the next level.