We took our family out to breakfast this morning at one of our favorite restaurants, where I experienced first hand what happens when you deliver inconsistent consistency. My meal came out lukewarm and was severely lacking in flavor. I found the experience quite puzzling, as I’ve ordered this dish before and remember how flavorful the food at this restaurant has always been. That was yesterday. This is today. The problem is, there will unlikely be a tomorrow. Why? Because I no longer trust that this business can deliver a consistent acceptable dining experience. How long will this establishment will remain in business is anyone’s guess, if this is their new norm. I suspect this could be the beginning of the end. Hopefully it’s not your business I’m referencing.
The concept of inconsistent consistency isn’t completely reserved for restaurants. I see this phenomena occurring a lot with leaders. One of the biggest complaints employees have about their bosses is that many are too unpredictable. One day they are working for Mr. Nice Guy and the next day his evil twin brother, Mr. Not So Nice shows up for work. It’s enough to make a sane employee seek counseling! Here are some tips that will help you as a leader remain consistent day in and day out.
Write things down. It’s hard enough recalling what you told one employee yesterday. Now multiply this by 10, 20 or even 50 employees who are all working remotely. Create a folder on your computer for each employee and use it to jot down notes from conversations. Refer to this folder prior to providing employees with responses to their questions, to ensure you are consistently giving them the same response.
Establish policies. Entrepreneurs typically hate policies until such time as they reach the point where their organizations are too large to manage by the seat of their pants. You know it’s time to establish some concrete policies when you can no longer recall who you promised what! If you are adverse to policies than at a minimum, establish some guidelines. Your employees will thank you as they will know exactly what to expect.
Survey your employees and customers. You may think you are delivering high levels of consistent communication and service. However, you’ll never really know unless you ask your employees and customers for their opinion. I suspect I’ll never receive a survey from this restaurant, which means they’ll never know why I have chosen not to return. They’ll also never know how many others I will advise to steer clear of their establishment. Now imagine how differently things might have gone had a member of management asked me how I enjoyed my meal. Don’t wait for your employees to quit or your customers to depart. Ask them now how you are doing and ask them again next week. Ask until you consistently receive the answers you hoped you’d receive.