Dollars and Sense: Managers must give clear expectations

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A common management complaint that I often hear is how employees often fail to complete tasks either on time or in the manner or way that the manager wanted something done.

When I hear this type of comment, I probe for more information. What I usually discover is a disconnect between the manager and the employee on exactly what was to be accomplished. The root cause often lies with the manner in which the manager provided, or did not provide, clear expectations.

The vast majority of employees want to perform well and contribute to the success of the organization. Management&8217;s obligation is to put employees in the best position possible to be successful.

As we have written about so often, managers must constantly coach and counsel employees to help them develop their skills and abilities. All the coaching in the world though cannot help employees if they do not have clearly defined job expectations.

Expectations fall into two categories. First are the expectations at the big picture level. Every employee must understand the goals and expectations of both the entire organization and of their individual department. We are talking about things like revenue growth, customer service expectations, profit targets, etc.

Employees must also be provided with a complete understanding of the expectations for the position they occupy. This means understanding the performance expectations of the job, the metrics and measurements that are used to determine if those expectations are being achieved, and other applicable expectations such as dress and appearance, workplace behavior, etc.

Management&8217;s job is to communicate clear and understandable expectations. If an employee fails to meet expectations in a given situation, the first questions the manager should ask are, &8220;What were the expectations in the situation and did the employee fully understand those expectations?&8221;

The answers to both questions will almost always provide the insight necessary to address the situation.

Managers that communicate clear expectations for their employees have a much greater chance of retaining their most talented employees. That&8217;s often the major difference between success and failure