"Hey, I’m Dr. Tom Miller and I’ve got an idea I want to share with you today: To be an effective leader you must inspect what you expect.
An expectation is defined as believing that something is going to happen or believing that something should be a certain way.
I know I struggle with communicating clear expectations. It is something I have to work on daily. I will allow my faulty assumptions to close that expectation gap. Which has never led to great results.
As a consultant and coach for school leaders across the country, the lack of clearly understood and communicate expectations is the number one issue I see in broken relationships, poor performing teams and the cause of most conflicts.
Here are seven steps you can adopt to communicate clearer expectations:
Get clear yourself. Most things are crystal clear in your head, but if you can’t clearly articulate them on paper, you aren’t ready to share them. Take 15 minutes and write out (not type) each day, what is it that I really want to see in my school, my business, my life.
Decide where you need to set expectations. Think about where the gaps exist in the organization you lead, on your team and the actions of those you lead. Results leave clues. Figure out where you are falling short, and define exactly what needs to change. If you are not sure, go observe or ask someone who leads an organization more successful than yours. It’s hard to have vision when you have yet to open your eyes.
Understand the why. Providing others with the context and justification for expectations will increase employees’ accountability for meeting those expectations. Helping people understand and see the bigger picture, and how their meeting that expectation helps achieve the bigger picture goals, will accelerate their support.
Meet with employees to discuss the expectations. Sit down with employees, either individually or as a group given the circumstances, to discuss your expectations.
Gain agreement and commitment. Once you have documented your expectations, both you and employees should read them, ensure that you are on the same page and commit to the new expectations. I recommend that you and employees sign off on the document should you need to revisit the issue later.
Inspect what you expect. You cannot lead from behind your desk. Lead by walking around, check in with your people to ensure they understand and are following through with the agreed upon expectations.
Address the little things immediately. Little things eventually lead to big things. Remember, completing the first three steps is critical before you create accountability. If you fail to follow the process, you likely won’t be able to express your expectations clearly and thoroughly in this manner.
“Here are the expectations we agreed on, yet here is what I see. So help me understand.”
When you have understanding, communicate the expectations again. In fact, write your "agreed to" expectations down with your employee or team.
If there are areas in which your organization is not meeting its goals, begin first by identifying what role you have in the problem. As leaders, we must strive to build clear expectations throughout our organizations, and it must start with us.
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