Standard of Excellence Slogan

“Keep the quality up” captures the essence of what standards of excellence are all about. This slogan is clear, direct, and forceful. It puts responsibility on employees to work toward maintaining quality—a standard of excellence. The slogan strongly suggests that employees should work consistently toward these standards over time. In addition, “Keep the quality up” stresses a positive expectation that has value for both employees and the company; quality is the valued benchmark of the company’s desired performance for its employees.

Based on studies of more than 600 team leaders and 6,000 team members, LaFasto and Larson identified several specific ways that a leader can influence performance and promote standards of excellence. To influence performance, the authors contend that a leader must stress the “three Rs”: (1) Require results, (2) Review results, and (3) Reward results.

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1. Require results. A leader needs to articulate clear, concrete expectations for team members. Working together, a leader and team members should establish mutual goals and identify specific objectives for achieving the results associated with those goals. Without clear expectations, team members flounder and are uncertain about what is required of them. They are unsure what results they are expected to achieve. Requiring results is the critical first step in managing performance.

For example, students in a research course were expected to form a group with four or five of their classmates and work together to complete a “utilization project” by the end of the course. Although the professor had a clear idea of what she wanted students to accomplish, students had no idea what a utilization project was or how to go about developing it. After a number of students expressed frustration at the lack of clear guidelines, the professor explained that a utilization project involved taking findings from a research study and applying them to a real-world situation. She developed evaluation criteria for the project that outlined what students were supposed to do, the level of depth required for the project, and the key elements of the project that needed to be reported in the evaluation paper. With these explicit instructions, students’ anxiety about the utilization project decreased, and they were able to work more effectively in their groups.

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