Marrying Goals with Standards to Win

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While goals are aspirational and motivate us to reach for greater heights, standards define the consistent actions and behaviors we commit to, day in and day out. Think of standards as the foundation upon which goals are built. For a business owner or manager, setting clear standards for yourself and your team means creating a roadmap of excellence that leads to achievement.

It’s about ensuring that every important task is executed with precision and dedication. Over time, these standards become ingrained habits, driving the company forward, even when unforeseen challenges arise. In essence, goals provide the destination; standards are the turn-by-turn directions that get us there.

Two Types of Goals 

Results Goals: “We want to do $15M in revenue this year, with a 22% net profit.”

Behavior Goals: “We want to be the best quality, have the best communication, and be the easiest restoration company for commercial businesses to work with.”

Results Goals 

The problem with results goals like revenue and EBITDA, is that they require the cooperation of others, and a specific set of circumstances to come to fruition. Essentially, when it comes to goals, we’re not completely in control of the outcomes. It’s popular to say we are—there’s definitely a culture in business that promotes this gung-ho ideal that if you just press hard enough, grind long enough, make smart enough choices, set the right intentions, or motivate people enough, you can hit any goal set in front of you.

This, in my experience, is only a half-truth. Without accompanying standards of behavior and activity, no amount of guts, grit, or grinding will deliver the results we want.

Behavior Goals 

You have them written on your walls, you may even have them listed on the back of your business cards or tri-folds. You have a particular kind of team or company you’re trying to build.

We come up with words like Quality, Speed, Caring, Integrity that we want our team to embody, that we want our brand to be known for. Yet most of us spend very little time thinking and talking with our teams about the underlying behaviors and standards that lead to others seeing us as possessing those values.

The problem with behavior goals, i.e., company values, is that we can’t ultimately control people. Everyone is going to have a different reference point when it comes to our values—a different standard by which they judge their behavior, effort, and decision-making, as well as that of others. What’s acceptable or even ideal to one person on the team, is often different from the next person.

Controlling the Controllable 

We cannot control nature, and we cannot ultimately control others. But we can control the standards we set for ourselves and our team.

Covey’s best-selling work “The Four Disciplines of Execution” gives us a great framework for this.

Once we’ve established what he calls WIGs or wildly important goals, the next task is to identify the leading behaviors or activities that will give us the absolute best chance of achieving that WIG.

Standards That Create Our Lived Values 

Let’s take, for example, Communication.

If we say we want to be known by our clients (and our sales team) for our communication, let’s first start at 10,000 feet. What goes into good communication? Most of us would agree that good communication is about clarity and frequency.

Now, let’s assign some standards to affect quality and frequency.

We’ll begin with quality, and I’ll start with a common problem—TLDR. For the boomers, this means “Too Long, Didn’t Read.” How often do we send or receive emails that are a giant paragraph of text? How hard is it as a recipient to capture the gist of the information being communicated? How often does an important detail get skipped over or missed?

Here’s a standard we can establish with our team to solve this: We always break up our emails and written communication into bite-sized paragraphs and whenever possible we use simple bullet-point lists to communicate important facts and create clarity.

Then, of course, accountability is critical. When a team member sends an email that is a giant run-on paragraph, we simply reply—TLDR, Could you break that up for me into bite-sized chunks or a bullet-pointed list of the most important information?

A few repetitions of that, and we’re well on our way to communicating as a team with more clarity and precision.

With regard to frequency, having a concrete standard is a game-changer. At Floodlight, we recommend a 24-hour Job Update for all commercial jobs. A simple Gmail template that every project manager or job file coordinator has saved that covers three questions: What happened today, what’s happening next, and are there any questions or concerns that need to be addressed?

Maybe your team can’t meet that standard currently and you instead establish a weekly frequency of job updates. Whatever the cadence, make it a standard, instead of a goal.

A standard is something your sales team can confidently talk about with prospects and clients. Standards are reliable and concrete.

Standards that Drive Revenue and Profits

What are the leading behaviors most likely to get us to the topline we want? Well, there are two important things to consider: how much marketing and sales activity are we generating to make the phone ring, and how effectively are we producing that work once it comes in.

With regard to sales activity, it’s incredibly important to maintain a cadence of new business hunting. At Floodlight, we recommend sales reps consistently make 50 fresh contacts per week, with fresh contacts including cold calls, LinkedIn interactions, and phone outreach.

We also recommend sales reps find and participate in a networking group or event that puts them in a target-rich environment every single week. A target-rich environment is defined as having three or more target prospects present.

You may think, “That’s obvious, Chris. 10 fresh contacts a day and a weekly networking meeting. We already require that.” But is it actually being done?

Most teams try for this level of new business activity. And most SMRs or commercial sales reps in our industry do a LOT of networking. But are they disciplined around the standard I described above?

Are the networking events and groups they’re participating in attended by three or more target prospects regularly? Are they a good use of time? If your sales rep can’t quickly rattle off the names and roles of a handful of prospects that routinely attend that event, it likely doesn’t meet the standard.

Here’s another standard we coach our sales leaders to: always have a target list before you go to any event, meeting, or tradeshow. Have a list of targets you intend to meet or engage at that event. This is a simple standard to deploy. During a sales meeting or one on one prior to an event, make it a routine to ask, “Who are your targets for that?”, or “Who is likely to be there?”, or “Why do you think this is a good event for us to participate in?”

And post-event, we can inspect the standard. “How many targets were you able to connect with? Who were you able to schedule a follow-up meeting with?”

Standards in Service Delivery that Impact Revenue and Profit 

Do we have a standard for your PMs of how much work they need to produce each week? At Floodlight, we expect a typical PM that’s working with a mix of residential and commercial to produce roughly $1.5M in work per year. That breaks down to $30k per week (50 weeks/yr) Manage your PM’s to that number. Having this standard in place helps drive a whole host of positive behaviors that help secure our topline revenue target.

Do we require your project managers to create a budget for all your recon jobs? Do you have a standard gross profit percentage that you’re targeting? It’s surprising how often we proceed on a job without first developing a budget that secures the margin standard we need.

Do we have a standard timeline for when the recon team reaches out to the customer following mitigation services? Having a process and standard around the timing when an estimator, PM, or project consultant connects with the client has a direct effect on our capture rate for recon jobs, and by extension, our topline revenue target.

Do we have a standardized invoicing package of documentation that is required on every job? That has a direct impact on how long it takes us to collect on work, and how much we’re ultimately able to collect against the invoiced amount.

Do we have a standardized accounts receivable process with specific timetables and scripts for collection?

Getting Started 

Dr. Henry Cloud is the best-selling author of Boundaries for Leaders, which has one of my favorite leadership quotes of all time: “As Leaders, we will always ultimately end up with a combination of what we create and what we allow.”

It’s important that we update the way we think about our business and what we’re giving our brain space to as leaders. We can get so caught up in the day-to-day that tunnel vision takes over and we aren’t paying attention to the standards in our businesses.

Engage with your team to formulate an Always/Never list to crystallize your company’s standards. This exercise can offer clarity and refocus on the behaviors crucial for achieving key goals.

The idea is very simple: review your wildly important goals and simply brainstorm together. What are the behaviors or actions that, if deployed consistently, would nearly always help us create the outcome we’re looking for? Then take a second pass and ask, are there any actions or behaviors that tend to torpedo our results or hurt our chances of hitting those WIGs?

As leaders, we’ve got to strike that balance—dreaming big but also staying rooted in the standards that have proven their worth time and again. Let’s not just fixate on the horizon; let’s also appreciate and value the solid ground beneath our feet. Remember, it’s not just the destination but the step-by-step path we take that truly defines our success. Keep those standards high, and let’s turn those dreams into reality, together.

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Chris Nordyke

Chris began his business career in direct sales, selling Cutco Knives for Vector Marketing at age 19 while going to school. He was a personal sales leader, and subsequently a Top 20 branch office manager in Los Angeles, directly responsible for all recruiting, training, team development and revenue across a team of more than 40 sales reps.

Vector proved to be a foundational training ground in entrepreneurship, team-building, and sales leadership that Chris continues to draw on in his work with restoration teams. 

Chris’s primary B2B sales training came during his tenure as a Contract Sales Rep for Cintas Corporation, a Fortune 500 laundry services firm. Here, Chris was introduced to Requirements Based Selling (RBS) which informed the Pain-Solution selling model Chris continues to use today with clients. 

Prior to joining Summit Cleaning and Restoration in 2014, Chris spent 8 years with State Farm Companies, 5 of which he spent owning and running a successful agency. 

From 2014 to late 2019, Chris served on Summit’s leadership team overseeing all business development and marketing with a special emphasis on developing Summit’s customer experience and service culture. He’s a founder and Co-host of the Head Heart & Boots podcast, co-founder of the Floodlight Consulting Group, and co-founder of the Floodlight Leadership Circles. Chris resides in the beautiful state of Oregon with his wife of 20 years, Cara, and their 3 children- Lily, Jack and Simon.

Email Chris at: chris@floodlightgrp.com

Listen to the Head Heart and Boots Podcast on Apple iTunes and Spotify.

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