Doing Your Job So They Can Do Theirs

By Tom Davidson

Q. What can I do to get everyone on the same page as quickly as possible?

A. One of the most important things you can do for any team is to develop a list of expectations for each individual and the team as a whole. Without these, it’s difficult for people to know what success looks like and difficult for you to fairly hold anyone accountable.

Expectations are short clear descriptions of both “what” needs to be achieved and “how” people should behave in the process of accomplishing those results. Both kinds of expectation are needed because it’s entirely possible for people to hit their numbers but cause other unacceptable problems in the way they achieve them. The litmus test for any expectation is, “Would I be able to look back over a period of time and see evidence that this did or did not happen?”

“What” expectations should not be hard to find or develop; narrowing them down to the critical few is more challenging. Here are some examples:

  • X number of widgets produced, audited, surveyed or planted
  • Y level of financial returns achieved, money saved or budget used
  • Z quantity of products purchased, shipped or stored

“How” expectations are harder to determine but are just as important and usually the crux of performance problems precisely because they were not spelled out. Here are some examples:

  • In addition to getting your own work done, you are expected to proactively help others achieve their goals as well.
  • If you disagree, you are expected to bring it up to the group along with your rationale so it can be considered openly and not behind closed doors.
  • You are expected to come up with new ideas, be willing to take reasonable chances and make some mistakes as long as you help everybody learn from them.

Finally, develop two-way expectations. In other words, generate both your expectations of them and their expectations of you. This not only gets everyone on the same page but develops the kind of servant-leadership relationship you will need in the long run as well.

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