Company Blog

Is the bar really lowered?

by Adam Zack — February 20, 2019

“We’ve found we’ve had to adapt.”

How’s it been maintaining your company standards? It was easy (OK, not easy, but easier) 20 years ago to set your standards for employee appearance and store presentation. Shirts had to be tucked in, cleaned and pressed, top buttons buttoned, neckties knotted neatly and pulled tight. Hair worn back for the ladies, cut above the ears for the guys. No piercings other than the ears or visible tattoos. You shaved clean every day, were at your workstation at your scheduled times and clocked in and out for your scheduled breaks and lunches punctually. Cell phones were left in your car or locker. The store entrance was clean, neat and clutter free. Shelves were faced (double faced), cans turned labels facing out. Every day was “Grand Opening” day. The bar was set and compromises lowered the bar, and once lowered, there’s no going back, right? Just laying that all out evokes visions of “The good old days” when the “my way or the highway” style of management worked, and worked well.

Recently I was visiting with Dorothy Lane store manager Dennis Chrisman. As we walked the store I saw one of his employees, behind the deli counter, take a sip of Starbucks type coffee drink. Visualizing the proverbial bar and how drinking personal beverages while on the clock was below it, I asked how he deals with things like employees drinking in the department or having their cellphones while on the clock. It seemed like a no-win battle. And that’s what the rules were setting the stage for – a battle that is black and white with no compromise, because that would lower the bar. If you lowered the bar, you admitted defeat, right? What he said next hit me as a revelation that totally changed my thinking. “We’ve found we’ve had to adapt” he said. Instead of looking at their high standards and having the mentality that changes to rules, or relaxation of them lowered the bar, they were actually evolving in a way that’s reasonable considering today’s employees and customers. Adapting is not surrendering to the pressure of an unwinnable battle. It’s actually revolutionary because it combines vision with reality in a way that evolves your high standards.

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