As an owner or leader, do you find yourself defending, selling or fighting for your standards, expectations and values? There is a fine line between demanding and expecting compliance, and creating a team of intelligent people who are thinking and engaged, yet still executing on the vision and plan you have for your department or business.
Passionately Share Clear Expectations
It’s hard to get upset with a boss who is authentically passionate about customers, taking great care of them, and doing business in the right way. You must avoid expecting compliance because it’s the rule or just because you said so. Your team members must understand why it’s important, but not be allowed the liberty to grill you with questions about every plan, process or method you implement.
So often expectations are in a leader’s head, but are not shared, not shared often enough, or not shared in a way that others really understand them. Team members need to engage – think about, talk about, report on and execute on their tasks, and why they are important to your customers and company values. And they need to hear your expectations over and over in a variety of different ways – and see those values in what you do and how you spend your time.
The distance from your head to your mouth is very long, and you may not be as clear as you think you are, and as you need to be. Expectations fall prey to assumptions, assumed agreement, what they think you really mean, and what they think is really best for you and the business. If you leave ambiguity, others will do what they think best, sometimes what is easiest and what enables them to stay in their comfort zone.
Without micromanaging, what you expect must be communicated, starting with job descriptions, processes/procedures and evaluations, and continuing with ongoing coaching conversations and accountability through measuring metrics and regular reporting. Answering the question, “What do you want me to do?” can be difficult and is more often communicated as what you don’t want someone to do. What do I do when I don’t have what I need? Yell at who was supposed to give it to me? Make do without? Go find it myself? What is the proper protocol?
Business is not a democracy!
The owner’s or leader’s vision is incredibly important. It is this individual vision that makes the business successful – generic businesses that do it like everyone else don’t last. If a leader envisions a very collaborative culture, that’s fine and will work if that is what they passionately believe in, but that’s not the only or best answer in every situation.
The employees’ role is to execute the vision, and use their expertise, wisdom, knowledge and intelligence to execute well and share insights and ideas of how to do that better – not to disagree with the vision and fight it every step of the way.