We’ve all heard it, right? Consistency is key: in life, in work, in sports, and in learning a new instrument. Leadership blogs love to remind us that all it takes is consistency to be successful. Seems easy enough, so why is it so hard to actually accomplish? How do you stay consistent when it feels like your job can change at the drop of a hat? New issues can arise constantly, and your team is looking to you for immediate answers. That’s the stuff those blogs forget to mention. You know how to be consistent when variables don’t exist, but that isn’t the hard part.
How do you fight the perception of inconsistency as you quickly adapt and pivot with the constantly changing environment of your industry?
As a leader, you know better than anyone that the buck stops with you. All eyes are on you to steer the ship to safe harbor, meaning you can never take your eyes off the horizon. It’s up to you to understand your ever-changing, demanding environment and adapt to it quickly and with seemingly effortless ease. The keyword here is “seemingly.”
Your ability to change and roll with the punches is one of the things that makes you an excellent leader. However, sometimes change can be viewed as inconsistent or unreliable. But consistency is about more than just routine. It can be about consistent communication and keeping your team in the loop to constant changes. Let’s be honest. Anyone working in your department understands the ever-changing environment that you are in. They don’t expect perfection; they expect consistent direction.
The perception of inconsistency is what can quickly drive a wedge between you and your team. It can cause people to lose faith in you and can rapidly erode the foundations you’ve worked so hard to lay for your company and your team.
Establish a consistent set of inputs in order to allow for consistent outputs.
Ask yourself, “What consistencies can I set forth that routinely allow us to knock it out of the park?” Setting up a consistent routine and list of expectations will allow your people to rest assured that you’ve got them headed for success. It will also allow you the luxury of being able to alter course as needed without looking bad.
Need help figuring out what these consistencies should be? Keep reading.
Let’s talk about science for a sec
In the study of science, everything has a set process; a set of controlled variables that yield reproducible and consistent results every single time you perform them.
Be a scientist
A scientist would never just change a process willy-nilly because they “feel like it.” There has to be evidence to suggest that a change is warranted and will yield better outcomes as a result. The experiment involves a detailed hypothesis and tightly controlled variables that produce measurable results.
As a leader, you should adopt this scientific approach to your business dealings. Create standardized processes that can be easily replicated each day, week, month, project, etc., so that you are guaranteed the same great results time after time.
What’s good for the goose…
Just as it’s important for you to create consistent habits, practices, and processes, so too is it vital for your employees to do the same. This limits the number of team members just bouncing back and forth from action to action, feeling unprepared, and, consequently, having to put out fires.
By helping your employees create consistent procedures and achieve great results, you will get less blame for their failures.
Let’s face it, not many of us are great at accepting fault when something goes wrong. However, if you’re managing a team of people, that blame usually gets put onto your shoulders whether they tell that to your face or not. So let’s limit the possibility of that by helping our employees thrive through consistency.
Consistency isn’t only for your employees
As a leader, that desired perception of consistency and reliability is also essential for your clients and customers. They need to be able to count on you to deliver the highest quality goods or services in your industry.
Think back to the science analogy. Scientists do a ton of research and experimentation to ensure the highest quality products or the greatest patient safety. Consistent, reproducible processes provide the best and most reliable products and results.
So you knew it was important, but now you understand the why behind it. Now how do you implement it? We have a few ideas…
1. Find your groove
When people say, “I’m not a process person,” what they really mean is they don’t have a process that they like or jive with. Think about it, you likely brush your teeth or change your undies every day, right? Let’s hope so. So, you are a process person. We are all creatures of habit.
Don’t commit to consistently going through a process or routine if you know you’re not motivated by it.
Sometimes the thought of doing something, or doing that something a certain way, carries a feeling of negativity with it. If that’s the case, scrap it and find something that brings you satisfaction and happiness when you think about doing it again and again. You have to decide what works for YOU. Unfortunately, we can’t tell ya.
2. Be proactive, not reactive
Resist the urge to run around putting out fires. You’ve surrounded yourself with a team of capable, high-functioning professionals that you hired to help support and grow your organization. So let them!
Hopefully, by now, you’re familiar with the Prioritization Matrix that we regularly reference, which assists you in evaluating the importance of projects and tasks based on the following questions:
- Is this a good idea?
- Is my team capable of executing this project successfully?
- What project(s) should be deprioritized if there is not enough bandwidth to execute this project effectively?
By evaluating the importance of your involvement in a task or situation, you’ll see that a lot of the time, things don’t need to be handled by you. Staying out of it can actually help your employees and clients view you as a more consistent and trustworthy leader.
3. Realize that no one is perfect
By creating a sense that you are a consistent leader, you’re allowing your team to exhale and trust you. However, that doesn’t mean you have to be perfectly perfect all the time. Everyone is human, so it’s okay to screw up from time to time.
When you make a mistake, own it, don’t try to brush it under the rug. Own it early and fully, but be ready with a viable solution. People don’t expect you to never screw up, and when you consistently own your faults, they will learn to trust you and rely on the fact that you will do whatever you can to help right those wrongs.
4. Stick to the plan
Well, actually, “Stick To The Planning, not The Plan” makes a little more sense. Once you’ve got reliable procedures and consistent routines set up, trust them. Just like we talked about above, the train occasionally derails. This is when you have to trust in your processes and your people to do what they’re meant to do while also being willing to shift the plan.
People will try to shake your confidence when things don’t go as planned. But does someone yelling “Panic!” mean you panic? No, because how is that going to serve you? You put processes in place in order to prevent panic.
If you need help fine-tuning or developing processes that create consistent results and employee or client satisfaction, we’re here for you. We’ve seen more than our fair share of consistent procedures that work and even more inconsistent ones that don’t. We’re happy to help trim the sails to keep you on course and win your race.