You’ve got questions. We’ve got answers. Hi, I’m Kevin Eikenberry, answering the questions that new leaders ask us. Actually, it’s our goal to help all leaders be more productive, successful, and confident. And this is one of the ways we do that.
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Here’s the question. How do I make my expectations clearer? And that is a great question, because as leaders, it’s one of the most important things that we can do is to set clear expectations with our folks. Why? Well, let me just do it this way. Have you ever had a job where you weren’t exactly sure what the boss wanted or you weren’t exactly sure what success was or you didn’t exactly know what was expected?
If that’s been true for you, you know that that’s a time of being a little bit lost, a little bit cautious, not being sure, a little bit of rework, a lot of things that aren’t getting you better results. Why would we want to do that to our team members? Ultimately, clear expectations let people know what success is, where they’re headed towards, what they need to accomplish.
We need to give that to them. So three ways to do this to make our expectations clearer.
Number one, be clear yourself. I cannot not make my expectations clear to you if I don’t know what they are. I can tell you, having coached leaders from all over the world at all levels, from the front line to the C-suite, that oftentimes when they’re frustrated with a team member and I ask them, what do you expect? They have a hard time telling me.
So the first key to having clearer expectations is to get clear yourself, which probably means you need to write some stuff down so that you get it out of your head and onto paper. You may have to edit it, you have to play with it. But when you do that, you’ll get clearer yourself.
And once you’re clear, then share them in conversation. Talk about those expectations with the other person. Notice I said in conversation, Don’t you say, Here are my expectations. Boom, boom, boom, boom. Any questions? That’s not what I’m suggesting. What I’m suggesting is a dialog or conversation to confirm the importance of them. Make sure that people understand them and make sure you have agreement on exactly what they mean.
Because then and only then do people know what the playing field is and what the goal line is for their work and their work product.
And then lastly, once you have that clarity, then you can create accountability for them. Then and only then can people take ownership for, say, this is I know now what I need to accomplish. And it’s easier now for you to hold them and help them be accountable and to coach them to reach those expectations. Until expectations are clear, it’s going to be very difficult for someone to say, I’ll be accountable for that because they don’t know what they’re signing up for.
Setting clear expectations. Critical to our job will make your job as a leader easier, will make the work of your team members easier and more satisfying because they know what the end line is. They know what the goal is.
Do those things. You will no longer have to ask that question. How do I make expectations clearer? You’ll be a more effective leader.
Let me close with today’s tweet. Perhaps the most practical thing you can do to be a more effective and valued leader is to set crystal clear expectations.
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