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I Can’t Be Great If I Don’t Know What is Expected

— by Jay Forte

Business goals

This blog is generally about maximizing performance – sometimes through expanding education, sometimes just by stating the obvious. Today’s post is about the latter.

So, here is the obvious employee statement: “I can’t be great if I don’t know what is expected.” No employee can possibly succeed, let alone excel, if he is not fully aware of what the job “done right” is, or what the performance expectations are.

I have asked hundreds of employees in my years of consulting and teaching what is expected of them – then asked their managers the same question. In most cases (if the employee knew their expectations) their responses didn’t agree. This creates two enormous problems: Employees don’t know what is expected and therefore cannot be held accountable for specific performance, which causes management to not achieving the results they want, need and expect.

Here are three ways to get everyone on the same page when it comes to performance expectations:

  1. Link employee performance to specific company strategies.
  2. Ensure all employee performance expectations can be quantified, measured and managed.
  3. Review performance expectations monthly with employees; work with them to develop a strategy to achieve their expectations. Coach, mentor and educate as needed. (This is actually today’s management’s real job).

A practical example

Company strategy:

  • Increase sales volume of a new product line by x%.

Link employee performance to company strategy (examples):

  • Create marketing materials for email distribution about new product by x date.
  • Create internal training program to improve how sales force sells the product; ensure all sales employees participate in training and pass assessment with a score of x% or greater by x date.

Review expectations monthly:

  • Meet regularly with employees to review their plans to implement their component of the strategy, progress, successes and obstacles. Respond to performance level with coaching, education and/or applause.

Performance expectations take away excuses, drive performance and show skill challenges (to be corrected). Performance improves when employees know what is expected and management coaches, guides and educates.

More about employee training and retention on the Mindflash blog.

Jay Forte is a nationally ranked thought leader and President of Humanetrics. Jay guides organizations – their leaders and managers – in how to attract, hire and retain today’s best talent. He is the author of “Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition” and “The Greatness Zone – Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform The World.” Jay is a member of SHRM, ASTD, the National Speakers Association and the Florida Speakers Association. follow him on Twitter.

(Image courtesy of Flickr user entirelysubjective, CC 2.0)

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