Have you ever planned a “fun“ Saturday date with someone and found that they were expecting something different than watching rugby down at the local, a few pints and a curry afterwards? Or a trip to the latest exhibition at the National Gallery and then a late lunch at the newest vegan hotspot in town, followed by a kale, avocado, pineapple and lime smoothie?
The road to hell is not just paved by good intentions, but also by a lack of clarity.
Relationships trip over misaligned expectations all the time, and nowhere more so than in the workplace.
If you want to avoid poor results at the end of the road, followed by awkward feedback and performance management conversations, there are four questions your team members must be clear about at all times.
A good contracting conversation at the start helps you avoid those dreaded difficult performance conversations at the end when someone does not perform the way you expected them to. And when that happens, it might just be down to a lack of management on your part:
Do you know for sure that your team members know what you expect of them?
You might be like me and sometimes fall into the trap of assuming that some things are given: of course this is about punctuality and accountability, to name just two OBVIOUS RULES OF THE GAME. Alas, obvious those rules are not, because different people take different things as given.
You might still believe that your team members know what you expect of them at work.
I challenge you to go check whether that`s actually the case.
If you want to do that quick and dirty, but without much value, then ask this Yes/No question: Do you know what is expected of you at work?
That’s almost a rhetorical question. It is the rare employee who will respond
“No idea what we’re doing here, Ted! You tell me!“
But how do you know if they really have the same picture as you of what good performance looks like inside of their head?
Questions that will get you clarity are open ones, the ones a coach, i.e. Leader from Behind, would ask:
What do you think I expect of you at work?
By inviting your team members to tell you what they believe you expect of them, you encourage them to reflect on what they do, how they do it, and why they do it. You also invite them to give you indirect feedback on your management skills. If their views differ from yours, you have the opportunity for alignment and collaboration.
If your views are the same: Well done!
Everyone in your team needs to be able to answer the following questions for themselves, and you want them to be aligned with the team and organisations needs.
1. What is my role? I.e. For what goals, objectives and tasks am I responsible?
2. What must I achieve? I.e. How will I know that I am successful?
If you want to grow your team member, add the following questions
3. How am I getting on? I.e. What’s working well? What’s not working so well? What behaviour is showing up? What competencies are, or are not, on display? What’s my evidence? What is impacting results?
4. What do I need to do to improve? This is the key question. The other three create clarity, but this question creates the possibility of growth. Without knowing the answer to this question, everything else has just been a planning exercise.
Buckingham and Coffman would strongly agree that this conversation brings life to the first of the 12 questions that are a measurement of great leadership: “Do I know what is expected of me at work?“Great results and great performance requires that you to start with the end in mind.