Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Importance of Consistency

I think that one of the most important things when working as a member of a team (or when leading a team) is consistency. It's more important to be consistent in your effort, results, and quality because then the people around you know what to expect. Being inconsistent creates more tension and anxiety because it keeps everyone guessing. Consistency creates trust, regardless of whether their quality or results are amazing.

If someone produces mediocre quality, but consistently, other team members will know what to expect. Maybe their draft will require a few revisions or they need someone to double-check their work. The danger comes when someone who produces high quality work drops the ball or cuts a corner; because no one expects it, the double-check is bypassed and it often leads the team to scramble at the last minute or disappointment.

It's even more difficult when a leader is hot and cold. One day they could be really understanding and mild-mannered, but the next day they'll fly off the handle at a small mistake. It's tough for a team to know how that leader will respond to a given situation or question - will it be Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde?

Consistency is also important in other areas of life because people worry less if they know what to expect from you. If you're always on time, call home every week, and show up when you say you will, others begin to count on that. The moment that you show up late without a phone call, others get worried.

If someone is consistently negligent (always late, never call or email, flake out on plans, moody, etc.) no one really worries about them because "that's just the way they are." People know not to depend on them or have high expectations in that area, so when they don't come through it's not a big surprise.

I used to think it was better to be unreliable because it's easier to impress when expectations are low. But by now I've realized it's best to repeatedly produce excellent work and be responsible both professionally and personally.

  • Do you agree that consistency is more important than quality?
  • How consistent are you? Do people know what they can expect?

1 comment:

foo said...

Lee, I like that you're blogging about these things. I'm going to add it to my bored-at-work rotation.

I'm not sure about my consistency. I think it's fallen off in the past few years. How does one cultivate consistency? It seems hard, like discipline.