David Harding: Avoid mediocrity, but don’t promise more than you can deliver Featured

8:00am EDT April 30, 2013
David Harding, president and CEO, Harding/Poorman David Harding, president and CEO, Harding/Poorman

If you’re among the companies that start your fiscal year on July 1, it may be time to do some thinking and planning. But no matter when you start your business year, here are some points to consider.

The beginning of another business year is at hand. No matter what your business faced or how your organization pulled through, now’s a great time to provide your team with a well-deserved “pat on the back” and a thoughtful review.

First, give thanks: Consider a half-day retreat. Begin with a celebration or recognition lunch. Find something positive you can recognize in each staff member, i.e., “Rookie of the Year,” “Best Use of Humor in a Low Moment,” “Most Inspirational,” etc. Make a big deal of each success.

Second, measure: Take stock. List your division’s accomplishments. How close did you come in each category compared to your goal? Where was growth centered? How did this last year stack up to year’s past?

Third, staffing: Which sectors are growing? Where do you need to build?

Lastly, what did you learn: Where is your business headed? What will you keep as is? What needs to be changed or discarded altogether?

There’s no better time of year to reflect, regroup and analyze. If you take the time to do this now, it can prevent you from launching automatically into a repeat of the past year.

What are your strategies? What tactics will accomplish them? How will you delegate and hold people accountable? How will you track progress, share the vision and the results? How will you involve the entire staff?

Measurements are critical

The worst kind of clock is one that is wrong. Fast or slow doesn’t matter. What matters is that it is wrong. Why? Because it’s human nature to be tempted to accept what it tells us.

The same holds true to any measurement standard. Keeping track of the wrong data — or interpreting it wrong — is worse than not keeping track at all.

Are you sure you are measuring the right information for your business, your products, your team?

Exceed expectations by giving less; it doesn’t sound possible, exceeding expectations by giving less.

People (customers and employees) don’t care how much you offer them. What they want is to get more than they expected.

In our rush to get noticed, chosen, grow bigger or achieve more, we often promise the moon — and raise expectations above what is possible.

How about promising less and bragging less? Instead, deliver on the promise to delight.

Demand the best

Too often, we are presented with choices that don’t please us. And too often, we pick one.

Why settle? Because it’s easier. Or we run out of time. Or the best is too expensive. Name your excuse. It’s simply easier to choose the least objectionable alternative than to hold out for the best or go out and find it.

Like Steven Jobs — we should demand the best of our people, processes, vendors and standards.

What are you settling for?

By demanding the best, you are setting an example for your staff. Too often we set a “lower bar,” and if each time you set that bar lower, mediocrity starts to set in. ?

David Harding is president and CEO of HardingPoorman Group, a locally owned and operated graphic communications firm in Indianapolis consisting of several integrated companies all under one roof. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce has voted the company as one of the “Best Places to Work” in Indiana. Harding can be reached at dharding@hardingpoorman.com. For more information, go to www.hardingpoorman.com.