performance.expectationsIt’s a common managerial dilemma.  You ask an employee to do something that seems simple to you.  And, what you get is not what you expected.  For whatever reason, the employee did not complete the job to your standards.  Usually, this frustrating experience happens when you have not made your expectations clear.  You expected one thing and got something else.   Here are five tools that can help you communicate your expectations clearly the first time.

Success Criteria – Before you turn the employee loose on the task, say this to the employee: “This project/task/job will be successful if (fill in the blank).” By articulating this one idea, you are able to clarify the end results you envision, which increases the likelihood that the employee will see the same end result.

Completion Date – This might sound obvious, but we often forget to share with the employee our expectation for when the job should be done.  If you expect the task will be done by Friday or by 5:00 or by the end of the year, tell them.

Interim Progress or Final Reports – Just like with the completion date, if you expect them to check in with you at intervals throughout the task, request that up front.  Sometimes, asking the employee to check in with you periodically can ensure that the employee doesn’t go too far down the wrong path.

Level Authority – Be clear about how far the employee can go in terms of decision-making.  Do you expect the employee will gather information and leave the final decision to you?  Do you expect the employee to make a recommendation to you?  Do you expect the employee to carry out the task from beginning to end without your guidance or approval?

Areas of Risk or Visibility – As a manager, your job is to give the employee all the information they need so they can do the job successfully.  Sometimes that means giving them a “heads up” as to any areas of potential problem or political sensitivities involved in the job.  For example, you might warn them that the project is a high priority for the City Council and the outcome will be carefully scrutinized.  Or, if the project is likely to meet resistance from others, the employee should be made aware of these potential challenges.

We never expect to be misunderstood.  However, when giving instructions, it’s easy to be unclear about our expectations.  These guidelines will help you to be more clear and will help you help your employees succeed.

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