managing people

Here’s How to Set Clear Expectations

By Asa Beavers

As a leader in your business people are looking to you for direction. Everyday you have opportunities to elevate the performance of your employees. These are coachable moments where your role is to help your employees reach their full potential. The real question here is, “how are you doing at this?”

As busy leaders we often overlook these moments and lose the opportunity to show how much we care about our employee and their performance, whether it is through encouraging good work, or challenging poor performance. We especially avoid coaching poor performance because we may think that if we ignore the problem it will go away, or we choose to avoid the confrontation, or if it’s a minor issue we don’t want to make a big deal of it.

But the fact is, people crave feedback from their leader and you have to find ways of letting employees know that what they do matters to you. Good performance matters to you and should be encouraged. Poor performance matters to you and should be challenged.

Here are some ways even the busiest business owners can quickly and easily coach their team members...

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Encouraging your team:
  • Never let great work go unnoticed.
  • Look for specific ways to encourage each employee each day.
  • When encouraging employees’ performance, be sure to state the benefit to the team, to the customer, or to the business.

For most leaders the encouragement part comes pretty easy. But sometimes it takes more than encouragement to keep employees on track. When problems keep reappearing, and brand new problems pop up, it’s time to examine the reason behind the symptoms and challenge your team. If employees are not performing up to standard it’s up to you as their manager to redirect their efforts so that they know what it takes to perform at their best.

Challenging your team:
  • Never let poor work go unnoticed.
  • Challenging takes place during the middle times, between the time when everything’s going great, or everything’s falling apart.
  • When encouraging employees’ performance, be sure to state the benefit to the team, to the customer, or to the business.

Before addressing poor performance, it makes sense to stop and check your own attitude first. After all, an employee’s behavior may have annoyed you and how you react is critical to how the challenge will be received and if performance will have a chance to improve. And understanding what’s at the root of poor work is important to addressing the problem.

3 Reasons for poor performance:

Lack of Communication:
  • They don’t know what is expected of them.
  • There is a lack of clear individualized communication and direction.
  • There is a lack of feedback.
  • There are mixed messages from different leader
Lack of Conditions:
  • They need more help to succeed.
  • They need more time.
  • They need more tools.
  • They need more training.
Lack of Consequences:
  • They see that nothing happens one way or the other.
  • They see no encouragement on previous good work.
  • They see no reward for good work.
  • They see no repercussions for poor work

So as the leader, and before you launch into challenging the performance of your team, you first have to ask yourself if you have set clear expectations and given the team members a fair chance to perform well. Ask yourself these 3 questions:

  • Have I clearly communicated what I expect?
  • Are there conditions that hinder them?
  • Are there clear consequences for their performance?

Clear, frequent, consistent communication is at the heart of building a winning team. You may tire of hearing yourself repeat the same directions over and over, but just about the time you’re ready to throw in the towel, it all begins to click. Strong leaders know that repetition wins out when it comes to setting expectations.