Performance Lever 3: Expectations

What would you discover if an unbiased observer spent an afternoon walking the halls of your company asking each manager, “What expectations does your boss have of you?” 

What might the observer hear? Perhaps the manager would respond with a vague “They expect me to serve customers.”  Maybe they would give a hesitant, “I am not exactly sure” or a vague answer that includes a shoulder shrug? 

Providing managers clear expectations, as to what must be accomplished and how it is to be accomplished, serves a valuable function. Clearly articulated expectations give managers direction and focus in situations of uncertainty. They guide everyday work and decisions. 

If managers are to fully contribute to organizational goals and optimize everyday workflows, they must clearly know what is expected of them. When a manager’s everyday work is focused through guided intent more will be achieved.  A manager’s day should be framed in a way that eliminates  confusion about priorities, what the rules are for completing work, those things open for discussion, and what will be used as evidence of progress. Managers should not have to “read minds” or guess.  This leads to unaligned efforts that take the company in too many directions. Not effective, as you can imagine. 

Managers lack the focus they need to be effective and drift from one immediate crisis to another when clear expectations are absent.  Setting expectations that are reinforced across all managerial directives is the critical link to companies’ general objectives.  By illustrating the path through tools that derive specific actions the manager must accomplish on a day-to-day basis, a business’ mission has a much higher potential to be reached. 

If managers are to achieve expectations and perform at high levels, a number of behavioral characteristics must be present.  These include: 

  • Expectations are clear, specific and documented.
  • Expectations address what must be accomplished and how it must be accomplished.
  • Expectations are linked to organizational goals.
  • Expectations guide everyday work and decisions. 

What would that observer find in your business?  Would managers have a clear understanding of your expectations and priorities? 

As a review:

Performance Lever 1: Strategy and Goals

Performance Lever 2: Workflows or Processes

Next week I will present Performance Lever 4: Feedback

Timothy E. LaMacchio, Business Performance Engineer, Red Book Solutions


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