3 keys to consistent performance

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On Sept. 28, the National Football League’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers on a last-second score. This is of note primarily because the Bucs lost by 42 points the prior week while the Steelers won by 18.

These players and coaches are among the best in the world at what they do. How can their performance possibly be that inconsistent?

Now consider your own team. It is probably not made up of the best in the world at critical positions, much less across the board. More likely, the employees in your company range from adequate to pretty good, especially when considering their peers around the world.

How can you profitably maintain your customer base and attract new customers if your performance swings from embarrassingly bad to amazingly good? The answer is: You cannot.

No one has an inedible meal at a restaurant and returns the following week. No one stays with a bank that periodically provides statements that reflect someone else’s transactions. No one continues to source from a supplier that periodically sends the right quantity and quality of the right materials, and periodically does not.

A successful business must have processes that are repeatable and reliable when executed by average people. You focus on the process and not the people. After all, on average, you will have average people. Excellent processes are required for success, not outstanding people.

Ask yourself these 3 simple questions:

  1. Are your processes sufficiently simple that they can be readily explained?
  2. Are your processes documented in a picture-based format, such as a flowchart?
  3. Are exceptions identified as such with clear “check with your supervisor” while you work to eliminate them?

If the answers to all three are “yes,” you are well on your way to repeatable and predictable processes. The challenge is to keep the answers “yes” as you work to improve the results of the processes.

If the answers to any are “no,” you are asking people to overcome the process to deliver consistent performance to your customers. That may work on occasions, but it also allows wild swings in performance that can drive even your biggest fans crazy.