We have spoken a lot about the importance of setting clear expectations. As you have heard, this is one of the most important, primary functions of a winning leader. Establishing in very clear terms what behaviors you expect from the team you lead and what specific results you expect delivered lays the foundation for everything your organization is trying to achieve. It allows for consistent follow up, genuine recognition, and a culture of real accountability. Without clear expectations, chaos, confusion, and anxiety will prevail and thus deliver inconsistent results at best, and poor results at worst.
But setting the expectations up front is only one small piece of the puzzle. What you do with them is what matters most. Once the behavioral and result components of expectations are set, you must put them into action. As the leader, that action includes daily, weekly, monthly behaviors that create your leadership rhythm and ultimately, a cadence that your team can count on. Wrapping your expectations into everything you say and do brings them to life, making them much more than words on a sheet of paper. Below are five simple things that you can do to wrap them into all elements of your business.
1. Deliver the expectations in a simple, clear, and accessible message. Don’t mince words. You can deliver them in a supportive, friendly manner, but ensure that there is no mistake about the behaviors and results that you expect. For example, “My expectations are that each team member does ‘x’ to deliver ‘y’ and these are important to our purpose because they do ‘z’.” This is a very clear example that gives the expected behavior, the expected result and offers a tie-in to its importance.
2. Ensure that your training program is built around these expectations. There should be quality instructions, coaching, and dedicated practice time developed around them. Remember to close all knowledge gaps on the expectations! Everyone must know what to do and how to do them!
3. Develop and share a regular scorecard around the performance results of the expectations. Rank your team if possible, highlighting the top, middle and bottom performers accordingly. People want to know where they stand. A scorecard is a good way to do this and it drives personal accountability.
Celebrate the top performers on your calls and emails. Recognize their performance and have them share there top 2-3 tips with the rest of the group. If possible, develop and leverage those who consistently perform at the top to help train and motivate the middle group of performers. This process will free up some of your time to provide additional help to move the bottom performers up, or even out of the organization, if needed.
4. Develop a regular communication method to update the team on performance results around the expectations. If you have a regular weekly conference call or meeting, use the expectations as the outline for the session. If you communicate via email, do the same thing. Whatever method of communication you use, these expectations should be the most important things communicated, so provide feedback on the progress regularly.
5. Be consistent. Repetition and consistency will develop the culture you want. They will also establish trust in your leadership. Your team will see this as professional, supportive, and directive behavior and will develop a strong belief in your objectives.
In essence, be very strategic about establishing a culture of expectations, feedback, and consistency. Through this you will build a strong leadership rhythm that your team can count on, believe in, and follow.