Tag Archives: goals

Expectations as Clear as Mud

“Most of the time, your team members will do exactly what is expected of them, if they could just figure out, what that is,” I explained.  ”When you observe underperformance, look for the cause.  It is usually in one of these five areas.”

  • Make the expectation (of output) clear.
  • Ensure the availability of required resources.
  • Validate the required skills and sufficient practice for the task.
  • Match the persons capability with the capability required for the task (measured in time span).
  • Ensure the person places a high value on the work (interest or passion for the work).
  • Ensure the person engages in reasonable behaviors required to complete the task.

“But I told my assistant that I needed the report ASAP,” Carolyn objected.  ”When I went to find out the status, I found out the report had not even been started.”

“Let’s work through the list.  The expectations were clear to you, but were they clear to the team member?  What does ASAP mean?  You needed the report for the meeting on Friday, so ASAP could mean – as soon as possible before Friday.

“When I look at expectations, clarity of expectations, I think QQTR.  Quantity-Quality-Time-Resources.  If I miss any of these elements, then the expectation is not clear.”

  • What is the quantity of the output?
  • What is the quality standard (so I know what to count and what not to count)?
  • What is the time deadline, specifically, date and time?
  • What resources are available, or not available?

QQTR

Creating Goal Visibility

“Goals. Who needs ‘em?” asked Yolanda. “Every year, I set some goals. It’s kind of like my New Year’s Resolutions. By the end of February, I can’t even remember what they were.”

“Oh? So, tell me about your resolution for this year.” Yolanda looked a bit uncomfortable.

“Well, I haven’t exactly worked it out, yet. Until I am sure, I would rather not go blabbing it around.”

“Have you thought, perhaps, that’s why your New Year’s resolution never works?”

“What do you mean?”

“Yolanda, your New Year’s resolution never works, because you never committed to it. You never clearly defined it. Did you ever write it down?” Yolanda was silent. “Here is the management skill. Goals work just like New Year’s resolutions. If you really want to make a change, write it down. Then say it to yourself out loud. Then say it out loud in front of a group of people. And if you really want to make it stick, give that group permission to hold you accountable for the goal. Take that written goal and post it somewhere public, where you see it every day, where others see it every day. You can start with a 3×5 card taped to your mirror.”

What is your resolution this year? What major thing do you want to achieve? Have you written it down? Have you shared it with your team? I am curious. What do you do to keep your goals visible throughout the year?

By When?

Sondra was holding her head between her hands, staring directly down to the surface of her desk. I tapped the door and she looked at me over her glasses.

“Why the long face, said the bartender to the horse?” I asked.

She smiled through her temporary state of mind. “Gotta work tomorrow, Saturday,” she replied.

“Not the end of the world, what’s the matter?”

“I assigned a project, a major project to Dale on Monday. He asked when I needed it. I said ASAP. Today is Friday. He hasn’t started it and he is leaving town for the weekend.”

“So, what does ASAP mean?”

“It means it’s important and I need it right away. The client meeting is first thing Monday. Another communication breakdown.”

“Oh, it looks like a breakdown in communication,” I replied. “But the responsibility lies with you, the Manager.”

“What do you mean? I told him it was important and that I needed it as soon as possible.” Sondra had pushed herself back from the desk, arms extended.

I shook my head. “This is basic goal setting and you have committed the classic mistake. When you assign a task, any task to achieve a goal, what are the elements in that assignment?”

“Well, I tell them what I want them to do, you know, how many of whatever, and any important details.”

“And what else?”

Sondra was stumped. But in all fairness, her mind was thinking about Saturday. I am sure by now, she just wished I would go away.

“How about when you want the project completed by?” I prompted.

“Well, if it has a deadline, but if I just need it done, it’s going to take whatever time it takes.”

I shook my head. “No,” I said slowly. “Every task assignment ALWAYS has an expected completion time. The classic mistake most managers make is ignoring the importance of the expected completion time. Tell you what. You come in tomorrow, on Saturday, finish your project, that should have been finished yesterday and on Monday, we will talk about the importance of expected completion times.”