What does “consistency” mean?
What keeps Forbes Africa Magazine selling, what makes certain Dj’s be renown across the content; what gets some businessmen be renown across the board getting repeat referrals after referral
Consistency means that rules and expectations are the same from one time to another. Consistency makes the client’s world predictable and less confusing. It frees their minds of worry about what might happen and teaches them to accept the set standards of quality of product or service or both product and service.
- Consistency allows for measurement.
Until you have tried something new for a period of time and in a consistent manner, you can’t decide if it works or not. How do you measure effectiveness if what you are measuring isn’t performed consistently?
I typically give new initiatives, processes, and organizational structures at least six months before judging them a success or failure. It’s often minor tweaking instead of major overhauls that make the difference.
“I’ve learned from experience that if you work harder at it, and apply more energy and time to it, and more consistency, you get a better result. It comes from the work.”– Louis C. K.
- Consistency creates accountability.
I ask my employees to be accountable for their deliverables and goals. They should expect the same in return from my leadership. I put a priority on making time for and being available to my team. I work to establish consistent and recurring meetings when a project or aspect of the business requires attention.
The simple fact that there is a set time to report on progress is often the catalyst that moves an initiative along to a successful end.
“Think about exactly what it is that you want in your life right now. Maybe you’ve recently launched a new business and want to leave your corporate job. Perhaps you’re on a weight loss program and want to get healthy so that you can set a great example for your kids and just feel good in your skin. When we lose sight of what we really want, competing interests and instant gratification – with all of their sexy distraction strategies – will beat out the discipline of consistency every time. Get clear about what you want and put reminders of what you’re creating where you’ll see them often.”
- Consistency establishes your reputation.
Business growth requires a track record of success. You can’t establish a track record if you are constantly shifting gears or trying new tactics. Many efforts fail before they get to the finish line, but not because the tactic was flawed or goals weren’t clear. The problem is often that the team simply didn’t stay the course to achieve the objective.
In the world marketplace, consistency brings in constant business from repeatedly satisfied consumers. This should come to no surprise since, if your customers are coming in, they must be pleased with the way your operations and/or products are running. If they are coming back for more, they expect business to be conducted in a similar manner, seeing as consistency forms familiarity, which forms likeness.
- Consistency makes you relevant.
Your employees and your customers need a predictable flow of information from you. All too often I see businesses, both small and large, adopt a campaign or initiative only to end it before it gains traction. It’s effective to run many advertisements, numerous blog entries, weekly newsletters, or continual process changes throughout a year.
- Consistency maintains your message.
Your team pays as much or more attention to what you do as to what you say. Consistency in your leadership serves as a model for how they will behave. If you treat a meeting as unimportant, don’t be surprised when you find they are doing the same to fellow teammates or even customers.
When something doesn’t work, I look back at what happened and ask some serious questions. Did we shift gears too quickly? Did part of the team not deliver on a commitment? Or was the expected outcome off base from the start? Most of the time, the reason tracks back to lack of consistency.
If you think you need to work on your character, the first place to look is at the patterns of your actions. See if your behaviors and the words that you promise are consistent with one another. If they are not, you know the place you need to start working on. Only once this is recognized can you begin to enhance your disposition. Consistency is key.
Positive workplace decisions stem from rational and reliable behavior. The information technology leadership website CIO Update advises that the ability to eliminate emotional decisions, as opposed to haphazard and inconsistent behavior, can make a difference in a company’s long-term survival. Whether you’re an entry-level associate or a senior supervisor, consistent rational decisions help you stand out as a dependable and trustworthy worker. Clients depend on you, co-workers need you and managers can’t get work done without you, so rational behavior gives them a reason to trust your workplace decisions.
Look at it this way in regards to each specific element
Products/services: Being consistent with what you sell seems like an obvious priority, but it’s not always the case, again especially with smaller companies. It’s not unusual to see avoidable and even sloppy variations in quality, service, packaging and more. Think of shoes: In a perfect world, once you know your size in a certain brand, it should be the correct size for you in every style that brand makes. But we all know that’s not always true. Aside from disappointing customers, inconsistency in what you sell can have very tangible costs, including lost business and returns.
Customers: Whether it’s a phone system, store personnel, order handling or general attitude and service ethic, with the best companies, customers know what to expect every time they deal with them. And assuming those expectations and experiences are positive, meeting them consistently will keep customers happy and loyal. It will also engender positive word-of-mouth, whereas inconsistency can alienate customers, discourage repeat business and stifle valuable referrals.
Employees: The best companies I know — certainly the most “enlightened” — realize that employees are at least as important as customers (and why customers benefit from that philosophy). So employees should expect the same consistency. Policies should be standardized, unambiguous and in writing, and employees should always know what is expected of them and how they will be treated. This is yet another area where a strong company culture makes a huge difference. Secure, content employees make money for a company. Unhappy employees — and their inevitable turnover — hurt the business.
Suppliers: The primary manifestation of consistency with suppliers is, of course, payment. Ideally that means paying on time, every time. But most small businesses I know — even those with the strictest of terms — are tolerant and philosophical when it comes to small infractions, as long as they are “dependable infractions.” In other words, if their terms are net 30 and they have a good customer who always pays 10 days late, but a very consistent 10 days late, most will live with it.
Aside from being the right thing to do, being a consistent, reliable customer when the bills come will pay off for you sooner or later. When pricing discussions come up, terms are being renegotiated, or special favors are needed, payment history weighs heavily in any company’s attitude about working with you. All other things being equal, the consistent, dependable customer will get better treatment.
Operations: Inconsistency is inefficient. Whether you are manufacturing, importing, retailing or providing a service, the more you can standardize the basic operations of your business, the better. At one extreme I’ve seen many small businesses that use too many forms and processes that overcomplicate basic functions. At the other end I’ve seen companies that “wing it” — without standard operational guidelines, record-keeping, policies, etc. The goal is not process for process’ sake; it’s to standardize operations without unnecessary complexity.
Growth: Consistency facilitates replication, and replication is often the key to growth and expansion, whether it’s for the owner of a franchise or the massive global scale of companies like McDonald’s and Starbucks. A Big Mac tastes (pretty much) the same wherever you go, and “Venti Latte” is a lingua franca in over 55 countries.
Now this is really important: Consistent does not mean boring or robotic. Put to best use, it is a road map for each area of your business, but it’s a road with very wide shoulders. It is possible — and desirable — to be extremely consistent without stifling creativity, discouraging individuality, or eliminating personal judgment and responsibility. Consistency and flexibility are not mutually exclusive; a band can perform the same song a hundred different ways while staying true to the distinctive sound that its fans expect.
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