Are we clear about expectations?

April 27, 2014 (San Diego)

            I wonder how clear organizations are being around expectations for each employee?

April 19th’s blog below: when managers mark employees on a forced distribution curve there would be incentives albeit covert to keep expectations a bit fuzzy. If the expectations and goals were totally clear and people exceeded them, the forced curve champions would be in a huge bind as more than 10% would be “top performers.” One would think that for an organization having more “high performers” would be good.

The May 5th‘s and April 14th’s blogs on helping employees stuck at a performance below goal level raises the possibility of marginally fuzzy expectations. For the most part company’s now-days hire proven professionals. Assuming a decent job of selection and interviews: very qualified people should be the outcome in the hiring process; why do so many, up to 25% languish below expectation, goal level, performance? They know how to do the work, after all they were hired because they were proven. So why cannot they get to at least goal level performance? The answer for the most part is employees are abandoned on the job unless problems or crisis happen. At the beginning there is a rudimentary explanation of expectation, but from there the employee is expected to learn the details of the expectations. In many cases that is more difficult than merely putting in time on the job and hoping to figure things out. The guidance from the manager or a mentor to refine expectations so that appropriate actions occur is totally missing.

I have also seen that accountability becomes part of the lack of clarity around expectations. The most weighty impact happens when an employee makes a mistake either on purpose, by accident, or for lack of knowing the “right action to do.” What I see the most is that the manager / supervisors states the mistake and reiterates that it should not happen again. The part that is missing is exploring why the mistake happened in the first place. Gaining clarity here is not at all putting yourself “in agreement” with the reason, you are working to understand the reason for the current performance so that you can adjust, correct, prevent, stop the current performance and aim the employee towards the desired performance.

For us as managers always keep in mind that the employees are watching what we do. Our actions have huge impacts on how the employees will respond. If we show passive indifference to the details of what is expected, what can we expect from our employees? Remember: we get what we role model.

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