Raise the Bar, Push Harder, Dig Deeper: Meaningful Change–Set High Expectation, Praise Results, Recognize Achievement…

Raise the Bar: Achievement is largely the product of steadily raising one’s levels of aspiration and expectation ~Jack Nicklaus

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Raise the Bar is a common business cliché that refers to setting a higher standard… It means never accept ordinary or the minimum because ordinary and/or minimum will never make you great. Its expectations that impacts outcome– where you start impacts where you finish… In every organization, there is a ‘line’ that can be drawn: Above the line, generally more senior management levels of organizations– people use the word ‘we’ to imply collective responsibility for success and failure.

People in this group say things like; We did this well. We should have done this better. We need to discuss this more. We should have planned this out more carefully. Below the line, generally lower management levels of organizations– people use the word ‘they’ to imply that things are being done to them by others and frequently these things are not good. People in this group say things like; They messed up. They should have done that better. They should have planned more carefully...

To improve-change the organization’s level of performance (i.e., raise the bar) means developing an effective strategic process that moves the ‘we/they’ line down the organization so that more people use the word ‘we’, and they take ownership for making things happen– making things better. A deep-lower ‘we’ line produces winning strategies because the ‘we’ are much more willing and able to meet the greater demands of perpetual change… 

Similarly, moving goalposts (i.e., shifting goalposts) is a metaphor that means to change criterion (goal) of a process or competition, in such a way that the new goal offers an intentional advantage or disadvantage.

Moving goalpost, also known as raising the bar, is an informal logically fallacious argument in which evidence presented for a specific claim is dismissed and some other (often greater) evidence is demanded. In other words, after an attempt is made to score-reach a goal, the goalposts are moved to exclude the attempt, i.e., changing rules of the game. The problem with changing rules of the game is that the meaning of the end result is often changed too… it counts for less…

In the article Raise the Bar– Over Promise! by John Halter writes: The ‘speed of business’ continues to multiply exponentially shaping the arena for competitive control… If we are not asserting ourselves to be– the best, the fastest, the most reliable, then what would avert us from hastily dropping behind competitors in the contest to deliver ‘best in class’ performance.

The ability to ‘over promise-over deliver’ is today’s business necessity… continually raising the bar and jumping over it; is the means towards building great companies, impressing customers, gaining employee loyalty. Acting with a sense of urgency, speed of action is an important differentiator–speed shows you care… Doing something for someone ‘right away’ means you ‘care’ and they do value it... To drastically improve a company’s performance, you must embrace the risk of ‘over promising’ through excellence; exceeding the capability of competition and delivering passionate valued-results to customers…

You must establish and attack elevated (raise the bar) goals with all your available resources to make it a reality. The ability to ‘over deliver’ at ‘best in class’ levels will distinguish your team, and create competitive advantages beyond normalized feature-benefit claims. You must establish team commitments in raising the bar’… striving for the highest standards... being first and setting the ideals for your industry. When you have the right people, they thrive on challenge and take pride in achievement. A ‘street smart leader’ challenges the conventions of the past… he takes personal risks to reach breakthrough performance… Most important, he makes one thing very clear; you are going to raise the bar and succeed, because ‘you care’!

In the article Raising the Bar on Performance: Leader as Coach by KornFerry writes: Today’s demanding business environment requires a high level of performance from the full team. They need to be responsive, innovative, independent, nimble, and align their work with the organization’s mission. Leaders must drive the high level of performance through ongoing and focused coaching conversations… Recent research shows that coaching is ranked first among 22 desirable management practices. Yet, coaching was rated as the ‘poorest’ of all the performance management processes. Organizations find it very difficult to build effective programs that raises the bar on performance.

Coaching is key essential for organizations under pressure to exceed current levels of performance and productivity. Leaders must communicate the organization’s current state, where it is headed, and expectations for new standards of performance… they must be collaborators and coaches to uncover and stimulate the untapped team potential for excellence in the organization…

In the article Why Raising the Bar Doesn’t Always Work by Noah St. John writes: We always hear that we need to raise the bar to be more competitive and more successful. That term raise the bar is a metaphor borrowed from sports world, meaning to constantly strive for–better, farther, faster… and that’s a great aim to have. However is that the way life really works? While it may sound simplistic, many people set themselves up to fail simply because their ‘bar of success’ is set too high.

Sometimes, the bar is so high that even when we ‘do’ accomplish something meaningful or significant, it’s never good enough. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. But the great news is that all of this is completely within your control. That’s why I often tell my team to ‘lower’ the bar, but keep it high enough so that you can succeed…

In the article Raising the bar on Performance Management by Trevor Dagg writes: In the current business environment ‘average is over’. Employees that don’t work to their full potential are negatively affecting the performance of their companies… Hiring people with the right skill sets for a job is no longer the most important factor in determining success of a company… managers must focus on the employees actually performance…

According to Harry Sinden; it’s the attitude of the players, not their skills, that is the biggest factor in determining whether you win or lose So how can an organization ensure that their people have the right attitudes, such that they work hard, effectively, and win? This can be achieved through– raise the bar on performance management! It involves setting objectives-goals and ensuring they are SMART (i.e., Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time Bound).

To achieve SMART objectives, performance must be managed on a ‘continuous’ basis. This means the implementation of continuous review process that allows managers and staff to discuss elements of performance– frequently and when it’s most relevant. Ongoing transparent feedback, mentoring, coaching are all key elements of the continuous review process, which will help raise the bar on performance…

Raise the Bar means– change beliefs, change attitude, change behaviors, change results– it’s the ‘bar of expectations’. According to Lou Ludwig; when we establish crystal clear expectations for our future, we create the foundation in our minds on how we will achieve our maximum potential. Steadily raise the bar of our expectations-aspirations just a little higher and a little out of our reach cause us to stretch out of our comfort zone.

As we stretch out of our comfort zone we stretch our potential, as a result our potential steadily grows and will never return to its previous size. Continual raising the bar of expectations maximizes achievement. Raise the bar starts with taking responsibility for what you have, what you have to do to get the performance you need, what you should expect, and ultimately, what you are responsible for

According to Anthony Cole; this means no excuses for lack of performance… there must be consequences… No excuses about not getting things done because of ‘whatever’. Perhaps the biggest problem for under-performing is the reality that many managers have established minimal standard for performance– they are rewarding minimalism… Raise the bar and eliminate the minimal acceptable standard of performance and embrace a new approach of extraordinary standard of performance, and that must be the new mind-set.

A mind shift is required in how you look at goals, performance, performance management. According to Harold Resnick; there is phenomenon known as ‘expectancy theory’, or ‘Pygmalion Effect’, which simply says: people respond to the way they are treated and respond in kind. If treated with high expectations based on the belief that they have the ability to perform, individuals tend to rise to those expectations… when performance is recognized, supported and rewarded then people will continue to increase in competence.

As competence increases, so does confidence. Increased confidence encourages them to raise the bar further and more competence continues to develop. This is known as ‘virtuous reinforcing cycle’. Positive performance builds on itself. The reverse is also true: If managers deliver the message– perhaps quite subtly and even unconsciously– doubting an employee’s ability, then the employees will be more cautious and lose confidence, which creates lower level performance, and in their mind this is a confirmation of lesser ability– as a result; the bar is set bit lower.

Over time confidence erodes, performance continues to lag and these individuals spiral downward into a negative chain reaction known as a ‘vicious reinforcing cycle’. Expectancy theory is real, and how it’s applied can have profound leveraged impact on the overall performance of an organization. Raise the bar– Set high expectations, expect people to respond… most important; help individuals achieve goals, praise results, and recognize achievement.