I’ve been studying human performance (specifically peak performance) for years in individuals and organizations. I continue to search for the clear distinctions that separate real winners from people who are simply reacting to life rather than proactively creating their success.
One of the differentiating talents I’ve observed in peak performers within our industries is their ability to evaluate situations and systems at a higher level, in a more specifically calculated way, than the majority of their peers. Since they possess this useful skill, they are able to quickly extract necessary information in order to continue training, reinforcing and implementing new programs and strategies as they work to achieve their goals.
In 2020, I’m sure you’ve had to make some quick judgements and changes within your company and life based on circumstances beyond your control. Whether you are aware of it or not, you used a mental system to decide how you’d proceed with decisions.
Right now, take a moment to reflect upon the specific evaluation process you use in your life and business. How long does it take you to expose undesirable results in your business? What methods do you have in place for addressing areas of opportunity or overcoming challenges you might be facing? How much of your evaluation system relies solely on you, and how much of it relies on other people?
Any time we rely on other people to make evaluations on our behalf, which is necessary in business unless you’re a one man operation, we must remember our team is evaluating things based on their personal reference points.
We all have varied references (derived from our experiences) that influence our judgments and decisions. These reference points can be extremely helpful in our evaluation process, unless we start to think our way is the only way. In fact, there’s a term in sociology called ethnocentricity, which means we believe the rules, beliefs and values of our own culture are more valid than others, and I’ve even seen it happen within a business culture.
This is an incredibly limiting mindset, yet we see it alive and well in our trades every single day! Just consider the age-old conversation regarding time and materials versus up-front pricing; I’ll bet you believe one way is correct and the other approach is wrong.
As progressive contractors, we must remember people are not their behaviors. All of us make assessments and judgments based on an overall decision-making and evaluation process we have developed over the course of our lives and careers.
Every single one of us has a system or procedure we utilize in order to determine what things mean to us and how we respond to them concerning almost every area of our businesses and lives. Things have different meanings and importance to people based on life experiences, values and previous conditioning.
It’s not good or bad; it’s simply a fact. Therefore, focusing on improving the evaluation process of the results in your life and business is one of the greatest skill sets you can improve. Taking the appropriate actions based on your evaluation is one of the surest ways to become more successful.
Ask the right questions
Sometimes it’s hard to know if you are using the right criteria to form your decisions, but one of the distinctive keys to making great evaluations is linked to the quality of the questions we consistently ask.
An effective evaluation process sets you free, especially when related to the systems in your company. Here are a few questions to ask when scrutinizing structural procedures:
1. How necessary is it? Make sure every system has a distinct purpose and outcome;
2. How reliable is it? The goal of a good system is to produce predictable results;
3. How effective is it? If you aren’t getting the results you want, the system needs to be changed;
4. How current/relevant is it? If a system or procedure is in place because “it’s always been done that way,” it probably needs to be updated;
5. Is it aligned with all other systems and company values? If it doesn’t work in harmony with the other pillars of the business, it needs to be reorganized;
6. Is the reporting 100% effective? Examine whether you are getting the numbers you need to truly judge the system. If not, alter your reporting; and
7. Did other people look at it? If you developed a system or procedure completely on your own, it’s time to ask successful peers and/or a coach to review it for you.
What I’ve found is people who experience phenomenal results have an equally phenomenal evaluation process that leads to specific actions. These intentional actions, in turn, produce a positive, deliberate outcome.
The reality is if someone is doing better than us in any area of our business or life, it is simply because they have a better way of evaluating what things really mean as well as what needs to be done in order to achieve a desired result.
This is true in every area of life. For instance, how you evaluate what you eat during the day will impact your weight, health and energy. How you evaluate raising your kids will have an immediate impact on their upbringing and perspective on life. How you evaluate your own performance, your team and how effectively your company executes your model in the marketplace will be instrumental in determining your profits and ultimate success as an organization.
Any time you’re in a place of serious evaluation I would encourage you to get yourself into a state of inquisitiveness and heightened energy. We need to be mentally resourceful when asking evaluating questions so that we make sure to evaluate from a place of solution, not a place of dwelling or focusing on the current problems at hand.
Any situation we encounter in life goes to our brain for simple unconscious questioning. “What is happening here? What does this mean to me? How does this affect my life? Will this bring me pain or pleasure? What can I do now, in this situation, to avoid pain and gain more pleasure?”
As I said, many times we don’t even realize we’re asking ourselves these internal questions because we’re caught up in a mental storm at the time.
This is especially true when we jump into “crisis mode” resulting from situations such as losing a top-producing technician due to injury at the beginning of the season, being served with a ludicrous lawsuit or trying to figure out COVID-19 procedures.
How effectively you evaluate the various aspects of your business is directly tied to your level of success. How efficiently you take action based on the information you derive from your evaluation is also directly linked to your success.
Pay more attention to your specific evaluation process, become clear about the dedicated actions you will take and be the company that thrives regardless of economic conditions, challenges or uncertain situations.