May  2017
Tolerance Level
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May  2017    The Headscratcher Post © Headscratchers LLC     Edition 132
Tolerance Level
Iím really allergic to cats.  A short exposure and a good hands washing and Iím OK.  A few hours in a house with a cat and my eyes are watery, Iím coughing and sneezing and have to get out of there.   Knowing this tolerance level, Iíll ask about cats before visiting a place to make sure I take some allergy medicine ahead of time to avoid the allergic reaction.

Iím not particularly fond of peas.  I do love chicken pot pies, yet most of them have some peas in them.  If there are just a few peas, Iím OK.  A few more peas, and I start to separate them out.  A lot of peas and wonít eat it. Knowing my aversion to peas, when Iím at a new restaurant, I will ask if the chicken pot pie has a few peas in it, or itís really pea soup in disguise.

Most adults I know have a known tolerance level for drinking wine or beer beyond which they generally wonít go because of how they feel or if they are driving.   Knowing this, they stop drinking before they get to that point.

If youíre a manager with an under-performing team member, you'll work with that person to get their performance up.   One of the first conversations you have is to communicate the organizations expectations of performance.  This expectation is a tolerance level, beyond which, disciplinary action is taken.

We have tolerance levels for nearly everything, beyond which we are so uncomfortable, or so impacted, that we take action.   Think about how long youíre willing to wait for a table at a restaurant, beyond which, you wonít wait and will go somewhere else.   You have a tolerance level for the quality of the work you produce.  Beyond which, youíll take action, perhaps do it over, get some help, go to training, read a how-to-book, etc.

Understanding tolerance levels (yours, people around you, your organizationís) has significant benefits.   The first is as a trigger, beyond which action will be taken.  The problem here is the issue has already reached tolerance, so a plan of action might be haphazardly rushed.

Alternatively, Instead of waiting for the tolerance level to be reached, you can take several actions;
1. Create an implementation plan to execute when a tolerance level is reached. 
2. Be proactive using a metric that can predict a tolerance level will be reached.  If the trend is towards the tolerance level, then you can proactively take action, or get ready to take action, prior to reaching the tolerance level.    This gives you a plan, and time to implement it in an organized fashion.  The metric might just be a question (do you have cats?), or it might be the number of customer calls youíre getting, or a customer satisfaction survey, or even the amount of sleep youíre getting, or how many miles youíve put on your tires.

The Takeaway:   Know the tolerance levels for the important things you do and that affect you.  Create a implementation plan for when, or if, the tolerance level is reached.   Track something that will provide you with a trend that will indicate that the tolerance level will be reached so you can control the timing of your plan.
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