One of the trickiest things for leaders and new business owners is to set the proper expectations for their team and then ensure that those expectation actually happen. We must think about what the end result is that we have in mind and how well we can follow up any actions that we implement. These are just a couple of concerns however and I am going to give my breakdown on how to set expectations for your organization.
The are a few things to consider when you are setting expectations for your team as you look at what the end result will look like when everything is complete. Will you drive higher sales while minimizing customer service complaints? Will you get back to clients quicker when they have questions? How will the team interact? Are there any foreseen issues that could be created as a result of the expectation. Issues such as a breakdown of team work, lack of continuity for clients with regards to their experience with you just to name a couple.
When you set expectations, typically you are trying to raise the bar or create some form of uniformity within your organization so there are some guidelines to follow when you are doing this:
Guideline #1: Make sure that you have buy in from your organization and let them set the expectations.
In this case you may have certain things in mind before you meet with your team but a good leader is subtle in getting the expectations put in place and making it look like it was your team’s idea all along. If you just dictate expectations, you are going to have a hard time with commitment from the team because they have no ownership. When you have buy in it’s a lot easier to hold your team accountable as well. More on that in a minute.
Guideline #2 Don’t set too many new expectations all at once.
Your are human and so is your team. Don’t try to change the world in one meeting. Effective change doesn’t work that way. Figure out 2-3 of the most important needs for improvement (with the help of your team of course) within your organization and focus on just those critical items. You may have 15 areas that you want to fix but you must resist the temptation of trying to fix it all because you will fail.
Guideline #3 Hold people accountable.
What’s the best thing about the whole team creating the new expectations? They created the plan not you and it takes away excuses with regards to how they were set up. Make sure that if you set a new direction for your team that you are the leader of this new direction. As the leader, you must drive the new behavior not only by your actions but how you hold other to the standard.
If someone is off track and doing things in a manner that is not congruent with the expectations, you must course correct with that person immediately. (There is a proper way to confront as well but we will save that for another discussion.) It’s not enough to course correct once, you must also be consistent and course correct every time.
If you have ever worked in sales, you have been to a sales meeting. During these meetings the sales manager (or insert other title here) talks about how this month or quarter we are going to do things differently and he/she lays out a huge game plan for how it’s going to be done. No sooner do you get back to the office when it’s business as usual for you and your staff and everyone is doing things the way they have always been done without a word from the sales manager about it. What’s the message that is sent? He/she’s just not that serious about the changes discussed.
If you want to kill your credibility with your people, don’t follow through on what you say you are going to do. You do this too often and everything you say to your team will be a joke.
Guideline #4 Follow up and update your team.
There are going to be some growing pains with change and it’s important to have constant feedback on how things are going so that you keep your team in the game. Many leaders fall short here because feedback and updates can take a lot of work and diligence on your part. This is why you only set 2-3 new expectations so you are not following up too much. I think of the hard/easy rule with regards to this guideline. It may be hard to get your team executing your organizations expectations in the beginning but if you stay the course and see it through you have created a new culture within your organization that in the end allows your team to be more successful.
Setting expectations for your organization is just one piece of the puzzle. How you follow up and monitor the progress of your team is what really sets apart high performing teams from mediocre ones.
What was been your experience with setting expectations in your organization? Do you have any other guidelines that you would add to the list?