Above and Beyond!

Today, let’s start out with a riddle: what are two words in business that can mean the exact opposite of what they mean?

Answer: good enough.

Because we all know that good enough isn’t always good enough….if it can be better.

We’ve all seen this familiar distinction, in one way, shape or form, in a wide assortment of surveys or performance reviews: where exactly does “meets requirements” turn into “exceeds requirements”?

And, even more challenging, how do we inspire behavior that pushes that needle to the next level?

After all, in the workplace, going above and beyond in any activity almost always leads to good things across the board—good things for the customer, good things for the employee, and as a result, really good things for the company.

But in too many cases, such behavior is still largely the exception rather than rule. How come?

Mark Sanborn addresses this question in a slender yet insightful little book called The Fred Factor. In it, he cites, as an illustration, the level of customer service performed by his mail carrier, a gent named Fred, which goes well beyond simply dropping letters through a slot.

Mark makes an open challenge to us all—how can we bring the characteristics and attributes exhibited by Fred into our own lives and jobs, to the benefit of all?
As I said before, such behavior can clearly lead to a win-win-win for all parties involved. But there can be roadblocks.

Simple workload issues, for one—many employees feel so overwhelmed with the fundamental tasks inherent in their own day-to-day jobs that the thought of doing anything “extra” is simply felt not to be an option….regardless of how easy and rewarding that extra step might ultimately be.

Some employees are hesitant to step out of their rigidly-structured roles and venture even a little into the great “beyond.” Some fear reprisal from co-workers, for “showing them up” and raising the bar. And some are simply too shy to act on the well-intentioned ideas that may occur to them.

So what can we do as managers to encourage our staffs to take the leap and “exceed” those requirements on a regular basis?

We’ll talk about some specific ideas in our next blog—but in the meantime, think about some “Freds” that might exist within your organization. What types of attitudes and behaviors do they exhibit? And how are they received by your customers, your other employees, and management….namely, you?

Stay tuned as we continue the conversation, and set the stage for your employees—and your organization—to go above and beyond!

Grow Big or Go Home!