Rather than communicating clear milestones against which to test progress, at times we assume our employees know what to do, and how to do it.
About a month ago, while outside doing yard work, my daughter approached and asked if there was any way she could help in mowing the lawn. And since I have two mowers, I said sure, why not … I mean, what could possibly go wrong? I immediately handed her the mower and gave a few basic instructions on how to operate it, she looked at me and said the following … “I got it dad” with an ever slight roll of her eyes, and off she went. After about 30 minutes, right about when she was almost done, I headed over to the side of the house she had been working on.
Side Note: You may not know how ridiculously OCD I am about my lawn (yes, I’m that guy). I dethatch, fertilize, seed, and weed … in short, I am completely immersed in the world of lawn care. (See Picture)
Therefore, while examining her “progress”, which I presume she deemed to be the equivalent of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel…..I on the other hand, saw this:
Now don’t get me wrong, Bob Ross is the man. I mean his use of Yellow Ochre and Phthalo Blue makes for some interesting pieces. But it’s no Sistine Chapel… which of course is what I was expecting to see.
In my “professional” opinion, her work was “ok”, at best. I mean the striping was off, due to the fact that she had not started by cutting the border around the perimeter first, and there were several areas where she had missed cuts. You could understand my disappointment.
After a few seconds of taking it all in, I took a deep breath and said what any perfectionist at his given craft would say to someone who just hadn’t delivered … I put my arm around her, and said … “great job, you’re almost done.” However, on the inside I was saying “I thought you said you had this!”
Often times as leaders we fail in delivering a clear and concise message as to what our expectations are to our employees and what our clients can expect of us. Starting a mower and giving basic instructions without direction and expectations, lends to aimless and scattered results. Operating the mower and not being clear as to what you’re capable of is equally a failure. We are not in the business of hoping to hit the target, or leaving things to chance.
I have outlined 11 points that I believe are essential in being clear about expectations, not only from a client service perspective, but also in working as a team:
Start with the Results
- Focus less on what you want done and more on the results you want to achieve when the project is completed.
Define Excellent Performance
- Paint a complete picture. Refer to a performance review form.
Guide, don’t control
- Let workers use their talents to find their own route toward productive outcomes.
Tie the mission to each job
- People want to know that their role makes a difference.
Deliver a clear message
- Be as descriptive as possible and “walk through” the process if possible.
Write it down
- Put the expectations down in writing as a reference to be visited throughout the process.
Stay on the sideline
- As difficult as it may be … If you play the game for a subordinate, no one will learn a thing.
Give feedback often
- Given along the way, feedback sounds like coaching, not like punishment.
Ask for and accept feedback
- The more two-way communication, the greater the clarity around the expectations.
Give positive reinforcement
- Mention the thing you like and you’ll get more of it. Be specific.
Don’t take it personally
- If people don’t perform as you think they should, look for solutions, not blame.
After quite a few years of public service and interacting with people, these 11 points have helped me. And, I hope they help you “Be Clear About Expectations”.
About the Author
Mike Soto is the Senior Recruiting Administrator at Insource and has been with the company for 4 Years. Mike is the proud father of 2 daughters, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, and is an avid lawn and yard guy.
Insource is a national provider of labor solutions and has been making a difference in manufacturing and distribution operations for over 20 years. To learn more about Insource and how we can make a difference within your operations, check out our website www.insourceperforms.com or contact Wayne Davis, VP of Sales at 919.675.5884 for more information.