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Clarify and Communicate Expectations

by Beth on April 28th, 2010

In addition to the importance of having norms valuing results not presence, increasing autonomy also requires that goals and expectations be clearly and frequently communicated.

Autonomy goes hand in hand with accountability.  Instead of controlling when, where and how people work, the focus moves to holding them accountable for results.  Having clear goals is less important when performance is judged based on presence.  Employees can spend hours looking busy at work without really accomplishing anything.  When performance is measured based on output rather than hours, people need to have a clear idea of what results they are expected to deliver.

So instead of spending their time walking around to make sure everyone is at their desk looking busy, managers should spend their time communicating with people in order to assure that everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing.  Leaders also need to communicate how people’s individual goals tie in with the organization’s goals.  Motivation is enhanced when people understand how their work contributes to the company’s success, when they see how their piece fits into the overall puzzle.

My son played soccer when he was younger.  He spent many hours at practice where the coach taught them the rules of the game and helped them to hone their skills.  Each player knew what position he played, what his role was, and what the team was trying to accomplish.  It was such fun to watch their games!  The players were so engaged!  Each one did his part, giving his very best effort in order to win the game.  I often thought how great it would be if people were that engaged at work.  Well they can be!  They just need to know what the company is trying to do, have clear goals regarding what is expected of them, and then be left alone to do everything they can to win the game.

Leaders demonstrate that they trust their employees by communicating expectations and giving them the freedom to decide how they will accomplish their goals.  Do you know what is expected of you at work?  How about the people you manage?  If you asked them to prioritize their goals, how closely would their list coincide with yours?  Why not set yourself a goal to spend less time controlling and more time communicating?

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