Where Are You Setting the Bar?
I had the privilege today of spending an hour with Ron Clark, who is known as America’s Educator and is the recipient of America’s Teacher of the Year Award. A best-selling author and guest of Oprah’s, Ron talked first about going into some of the nation’s worst schools and instilling a work ethic and respect for education that some of the best schools would envy. Later he talked about raising funds, in some cases $5 at a time, to build a school in Atlanta that embodied all of the principles he had practiced on his path to that achievement.
One of his practices remains at the front of my mind. He spoke about having classes with a few great students who, because of their natural ability were not used to having their limits tested. He also spoke about the legions of mediocre and poor students who were simply left behind. His solution, which he practices to this day, is to teach to a level that stretches even the great students, and insist that entire classes rise to that standard.
It made me think about the average workplace and the way in which we assign work and choose staff for our most challenging projects. I think it’s worth asking ourselves: “Am I consistently raising the bar to the level of my highest performing employees, or am I setting the bar lower as a level that all or most employees can attain?” In his book, “How to Hire A Players,” Eric Herrenkohn asserts that the best way to convince A Players to leave, is to tolerate mediocrity.
So ask yourself, “Where am I setting the bar in my company or organization?”