October 10, 2021

By: 
Rachel Strella

5 Fundamentals of Delivering Excellence

excellence

Recently, #Strella Social Media implemented an intra-team program to reinforce our company’s four core values: 

  • Communication
  • Commitment to Excellence
  • Service
  • Relationships 

We break each core value into action statements (behaviors) called “Fundamentals.” Each week, someone on the team owns a Fundamental, and they are responsible for instilling it across the organization, starting with a Sunday Fundamental kickoff email! (In case you missed it, my previous blog post on the topic explains in more detail how the program works.)

We just finished addressing the five Fundamentals related to our core value, “Commitment to Excellence.”

  • Practice fanatical attention to detail.
  • Take your time.
  • Don’t cut corners. 
  • Double-check your work.
  • Be coachable.

Below, I’ve shared some of the Sunday email insights our team members shared about those Fundamentals as they relate to striving for excellence.

Fundamental Behaviors that Demonstrate Commitment to Excellence

Fundamental #1: Practice Fanatical Attention to Detail

At a basic level, attention to detail is the detail that makes your service or client experience excellent versus good, average, or worthless.

Think about your favorite hotel experience. The company probably considered every detail from start to finish — from the outdoor landscaping to the foyer furnishings and from the soaps in your bathroom to the branded scent in your sheets. Detail and consistency are what make all brands distinct and memorable, which is crucial for customer loyalty and team cohesion. 

However, I remember all the details were there at one hotel, except for one crucial element —  there was no air conditioning in the height of a heatwave. What could have been a great stay was soured by the fact that we couldn't sleep and had no respite from the 110 degrees Fahrenheit weather. It impacted our mood throughout the trip and our memory of it after.

Our professional reputations require the same level of attention. If we get everything right yet miss a detail, it can mar a client’s experience and erode trust in the #Strella brand. So take the extra time to practice fanatical attention to detail so that you make the client experience the best it can be!

Fundamental #2: Take Your Time

Most of you have heard the saying, “Take your time, but hurry up.”

This classic saying fits the social media industry perfectly. It’s exactly what we don't want to do. Rushing leads to mistakes, increased workload, lost time, and lost profit. Most importantly, it is what can cost us the business because it will erode our clients’ trust in us.

For lengthy projects, whether personal or work-related, it is best to use time wisely by:

  • Organizing – There might be several steps needed to complete a project, so staying organized can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed. Consider getting a planner because it might help.
  • Creating a to-do list – Perhaps you need to write copy, request a visual asset to accompany it, and also remember to reach out to a client about the status of project deliverables. Write down the steps involved in each project so that you don’t miss anything. 
  • Doing your research – Gain in-depth knowledge of the task at hand by asking questions and using available resources.
  • Keeping your client in the loop – Let them know you are working on their project and what stage of completion you are in so they aren't left in the dark wondering where things stand.

In summary, ensure that what you’re doing is flawless before moving on to the next thing. The growth of our company, our team, and you as a professional depends on it.

Fundamental #3: Don’t Cut Corners

For some reason, my immediate thought about cutting corners centered on building contractors. If they use cheap hardware, shortcut construction steps, or don’t get proper inspections, it could lead to the walls — literally — tumbling down. 

Although in our line of work no one will become injured physically if we cut a corner when trying to get from Point A to Point B faster, it can still have detrimental effects on the foundation of our businesses. 

As B2B independent contractors, we have to think not only about how cutting corners will affect us professionally but also about how our actions (or lack of actions) will reflect on our clients’ (#Strella included) reputations. 

So, how can you and I ensure we don’t cut corners in our work? Below is a checklist with some ideas:

  • Don’t multitask. Focus on the task at hand and don’t allow distractions to interfere. That may mean putting your mobile phone in another room so that you can resist the lure of notifications.
  • Verify facts and confirm the accuracy of information. When a client provides us with information or cites something from somewhere else, it’s important to fact-check and get clarification on any ambiguity. For example, one of my ongoing projects is editing a magazine that accepts submissions from physicians. In their articles, doctors often mention names of organizations, diseases, medications, and procedures. Although one might assume what the doctors write will be spot on, I’ve learned that even industry experts make mistakes (and more often than you might expect!). Therefore, when reviewing their content, I research the terminology they use. It adds time to the editing process, but it’s necessary for quality assurance.
  • Take time to review and refine work. Give everything you do a “read-through” to detect errors and identify what can be improved. Tip: Reading content aloud helps!
  • Tackle high-profile work that needs to be impeccably done only when you’re at your best. Some work requires more attention and “kid gloves” than other work. When you have an assignment that needs to be as close to perfection as possible, try to make sure you schedule it for a time when you’re at your peak performance level. For example, if you’re more of a night owl than an early bird, plan to tackle the high-impact work in the evening.
  • Plan your time effectively. By creating a schedule for tasks, you can better ensure you'll have the time you need to do your work thoroughly. This can help remove the temptation to cut corners because you’ve allotted enough time to do the job well.

If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right the first time – every time! 

Fundamental #4: Double-Check Your Work

I take my responsibilities of proofreading and social media posting very seriously. Typos and grammatical errors not only irk me... but these mistakes also have the potential to reflect negatively on our clients. I'm sure everyone at one time or another has caught typos in books, emails, social media posts, and magazines. I don't know about you, but I see the errors and know it's something that could have been avoided if the writer or editor had taken a few extra minutes to double-check their work. A recent example in my own home was in a set of instructions for a Nintendo Switch docking station we received last week; it read (I kid you not), "This is a "Mush Have!" rather than a "Must-Have." 🙄

We all are guilty of looking at the same set of content for a while and thinking it's "perfect." However, a fresh set of eyeballs can often find something that can be fixed or improved. An awesome thing about the #Strella content creation system is that at least one additional person always reviews our clients’ content before it's published! 

Here are my suggestions for double-checking your work, especially if you're involved in the content creation side of the house:

  • Memorize or keep the rules of punctuation on hand. This Punctuation Guide is a super-helpful online resource.
  • Read what you have written out loud (unless you're in a public place and easily embarrassed!). Does it sound right to you when you're saying it? If not, rewrite and re-read until you're happy with it.
  • Consider using Grammarly. I swear by it! The free plan is perfect for catching many writing errors. 
  • Draft your content in a Word Doc to catch typos. The Editor function in Word catches a lot of typos, too.
  • When in doubt, ask Google. Pretty much any question you have about grammar, spelling, sentence structure, etc., has been asked — and answered — before.

Fundamental #5: Be Coachable

One thing I’m always doing is learning. We are professionals in our respective fields, but we can always keep our minds sharp by actively seeking outside opinions and new ways to excel in our work.

Having an open mind and being open to advice is very important to allow this to happen. We have to accept that there are people out there who may do our job better than us, or in effective ways that we may not have thought about, that could give us an advantage. 

Many of us have had the pleasure of either coaching or being coached by fellow team members within this past month. I know that I’ve learned a lot from talking to my coach. We both went in with open minds and intending to help one another grow. Any constructive criticism was delivered in a conversational manner that allowed me to think of simple concepts in a much bigger picture. I allowed myself to benefit from having an open mind and allowing myself to “be coachable.”

So, with that all said, I encourage you to be open to advice when it’s given to you! Don’t huff and puff when someone offers a new perspective. To “be coachable” is to be open to becoming better than you were yesterday. Take it from me!

“If you had started doing anything two weeks ago, by today you would have been two weeks better at it.” ~ John Mayer

While perfection is not always possible, becoming better through committing to excellence in all you do is achievable. I encourage you and your team members to keep in mind my team’s thoughts on the above five Fundamentals as you tackle your to-dos and manage projects. I believe you’ll discover that you’ll elevate each individual’s skills and performance while strengthening your client relationships.

Your Turn! Which of the five Fundamentals do you and your team prioritize as you strive to deliver excellence?

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