Standard Setting

Sainsbury’s were the UK’s number one supermarket in the Eighties, only to be overtaken by Tesco in the Nineties.  They remain unsurprisingly keen to claw back their slipped ground.  Through the joy that is Noughties business reality tv, I caught a small convenience-store employee of theirs used as a guinea pig.  The plan was to see whether a person usually considered too junior for such development could be fast-tracked to management.

Thrown in at the deep end in their largest store in the country (98,000 sq ft, 800 staff, 65,000 weekly customers) his boss for this fortnight like to repeat his favourite management phrase:

“the standards you set are the standards you’re gonna get”

The definition of set here is the one which alludes to leading by example, rather than telling people what they should achieve.

This was the first time I’d heard this expression.  It’s the kind of mantra that I remember “bingo” sheets being passed around the table during my corporate time in the Nineties.  This was a derogatory act, if you’re in the dark.  Yet unlike many of those sayings, I quite liked this one.

How can you expect a prospect to instantly return your call if you took three days to answer their most recent query?

Why would a prospect be precise on data, when you’re sketchy on your prices?

What support staff would break a neck to rush to your aid if you didn’t pull up tree trunks to help them out last time?

For solution sellers, the list can go on for a long time.

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