As a business owner, you have a long list of standards—even if you don’t realize it. You have expectations of your employees. You have expectations for yourself. You have expectations of vendors, contractors, and partners. You even have expectations of your customers.

Hopefully, you have formalized and written these expectations so that they can be used as a guiding “code of conduct” which ensures that everyone involved in your operation knows exactly what is expected of them.

Unfortunately, during the course of a busy week, you’re likely to encounter situations that tempt you to compromise these standards. I know exactly how this feels!

It may be an employee that shows up 10 minutes late in the morning, fails to complete all of his/her assigned work, or even answers the phone incorrectly.

It may be a vendor who delivers a shipment several hours late.

It may be a contractor who cuts a couple of corners on a project.

Heck, it may be all of the above!

Each of these incidents could easily be rationalized as “not a big deal.” In fact, many business owners tend to ignore such “minor” problems because they already have enough on their plate. I know plenty of business owners that think this way.

Here’s the problem with that approach. When you compromise your standards, you begin a slow decline. Once your employee realizes that he/she can get away with showing up late, it will happen again. And again. Pretty soon, it becomes a habit. And other employees notice—and begin showing up late themselves. Give it enough time, and most of your workforce will be showing up late.

The same is true of your vendors, contractors, and everyone else.

When it comes to regulating performance, you have to draw the line somewhere. And the place to draw that line is exactly where your standards say it should be. Don’t wait until an employee is late for a big presentation, or until a customer complains about the quality of a product.

Set your standards, communicate them clearly, and refuse to tolerate any failure to meet them. Don’t “let it slide”—respond immediately and save yourself major headaches down the road!