The single most effective management tool is articulating your expectations of your staff. The reality of managing expectations revolves around 3 simple principles:
1. Managers communicate their expectations consciously and unconsciously.
2. Employees consciously and unconsciously understand expectations.
3. Employees perform in ways that are consistent with expectations.
More times than not, people excel in response to their manager’s performance message. On the other hand, it can undermine someone’s performance when a manager does not articulate their expectations in a clear and concise manner. Although many managers’ expectations are often subtle, they are picked-up consciously and unconsciously by their staff. It could be as simple as a manager failing to praise someone’s performance as frequently as they praise others. Other times, it could be a manager talking less to a particular person or not sharing ideas or personal items with that person.
However, if a manager is skilled and has high expectations for all of his/her employees, the employee’s self-confidence grows, skills are developed faster and performance moves in a more positive direction.
If you have positive thoughts and high-expectations of the people you manage, you’ll find that they will begin to make contributions that are more positive. And while setting your employees’ expectations is a critical element in managing people, it is just as important to follow up with your employees on a regular basis to ensure that they are meeting your expectations. If not, you will find that some employees may take the path of least resistance in getting things done, a practice that produces average results more times than not.
Say you are managing a sales team and you have set a “sales quota” for everyone. You also know each salesperson needs to make a certain number of “prospect cold-calls” to make their quota. If you are not managing their level of “cold-calls” each week, there is a very good chance some people will not perform to your expectations. On the other hand, if you do manage the “phone-time” of those people who are under performing by setting specific dates, times and number of “cold- calls” they need to do each week, you will soon see their sales increase.
This means that, as managers, we need to spend time getting to know our employees and understanding how they are driven internally and/or externally. Then, we can adjust our communication and follow up accordingly.
Managers do not have to verbally communicate their expectations in order for them to be set. Non-verbal cues and lack of verbal cues alone can set the tone for how managers expect their employees to perform. This is why it is important for managers to be clear and direct about what they expect from their employees. Also, following up in order to ensure that expectations are clear is another way to make sure that employees understand their responsibilities.
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