Well not much. Average is simply that average. Not bad enough to be thrown into the trash but not good enough to ever order again. Speaking personally when I try a new restaurant and find the food or the service to be average I don't go back.

Isn't it interesting how often we settle for mediocrity or become party to those who tolerate doing "C" level work? Or worse yet we've been lulled into treating all results as deserving of a plaque or a trophy. Win, lose or draw everyone must get a prize. Certainly not indicative of the "real" world or at least not the one in which I live.

Even in business some suggest that sharing performance rankings is demoralizing for those who appear at the bottom of the sales performance list. And to dilute things yet further our colleagues in human resources have managed to slip in a review category of "meets expectations", which to my mind is equivalent to doing "C" level work.

Why would anyone be surprised? Especially when you realize the criteria used to measure our children's performance? It seems the kids today are judged against some ill-defined "fairness" scale. Add to that our schools teach and evaluate against the government's Standards of Learning (SOL) where the indices for success is measured by a mark of "pass-fail".

So with all that said what's a business owner to do?

Talk the Talk & Walk the Walk

Well first of all what we do at Landscape Supply is establish and then regularly communicate our corporate vision and philosophy. As owners we must let all on the team know exactly what we stand for and more importantly live and perform each day in accordance with that vision, i.e., we have to be sure to talk the talk AND walk the walk.

Hire Correctly

Perhaps the most important variable is hiring correctly. Very tough to do but with proper rehearsal and by a teaming interview process it is possible to get a pretty good feel for the candidates orientation to work and his/her willingness to go the extra mile for the customer. Regardless of our schedule we religiously devote uninterrupted time to conducting our interviews. Doing so may be painful at the time, especially when "in-season" but the cost downstream makes this a very good investment of time.

Moving "Average" Out the Door

Certainly we don't always make the right choice. But there must always be a commitment to open the door and allow some we've hired to go on to other employment. While we are always willing to coach and counsel those who perform below our, at some point it's vital to recognize some puzzle pieces will simply never fit.

Redefining What's "Average"

And the last component of the equation is where to reset your "average". Doing so may well require redefining the grading scale with only three letters, F, B or A. Tough talk and even more difficult to enforce but not when we consider our customers' expectations.

To that end allow me to ask the question. Would any of you reading this be content if the report card you gave LSI was marked with an F, a D or a C? Nope, you all want and rightfully expect "A" level of service. So do we!

So from our vantage point it doesn't take much to be average. Average is simply that average; a place where no one is given a prize and where survival is short lived. We never want Landscape Supply to be seen in that category; not as we do regular internal appraisals and NEVER by any of our customers.

As I ask you each month please call me if you ever feel we've not performing at an "A" level. We don't grade on a curve and sure don't expect you to either.