[dt_code][/dt_code]Setting clear expectations is a very key component of performance management, yet, it’s something that most employers do poorly. In fact, when a business is having employee performance problems, more often than not it’s because it did not provide its employees with clear expectations. In other words, its employees either do not understand what is expected of them or they do not believe that their employer’s expectations are real.

So what is a clear expectation? Let’s start by giving you an example of what it’s not. It’s not assuming that since you know what needs to be done your employees do too. They are not mind readers! To be world class you must provide your employees with specific, unambiguous expectations and once you do, you must confirm whether or not they really understand them. For example, let’s assume you are talking with a salesperson. You might say, “It takes 50 sales calls a day for you to have the kind of success that I want you to have. So to help me make sure that you understood this, tell me what you think I just said.”

Tip. Generally speaking, you must confirm that an employee understands what you expect and is acting on your expectations over a period of about 21 days because research shows that it takes that long for someone to develop a new habit.

Conveying clear expectations to your employees involves ensuring that they understand:

Who is relying on them to perform their job. Those people could include you, their manager, their co-workers, or even your company’s customers.

Your desired metrics for tasks they are performing, like load count, margin percentage, total margin, sales calls, working hours and other important metrics. Ideally, if you do a good job of describing each metric, at the end of each day your employees should be able to say to themselves, “I did or did not succeed today because I know what I was supposed to accomplish.”

How you expect them to do their job. For example, what kind of attitude do you want them to have; how do you want them to answer the phone; what do you want them to do to ensure that your customers are satisfied? You may want to do some role-playing with them to help them understand exactly what you want.

Setting clear expectations also requires that you let your employees know when they do and don’t meet your expectations. Your feedback is essential. If an employee is missing the mark, your feedback need not be harsh or condescending. For example, you might just simply say, “I noticed you’re only making 30 calls, but our expectation is that you will make 45.”  And, when an employee is meeting your expectations and you let him or her know, you’re confirming that your expectations are real and the employee will be motivated to continue meeting them. Again, letting the employee know can be as simple as saying “You’re meeting my expectations. Good job!”

Joel McGinley



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