Performance Management

Wed, Dec 10, 2008


Expectations are an effective medium for performance management. Revising and raising the bar of performance continuously is one of the secrets of organizational success. Leaders set the standard by which other people calibrate their choices and behaviors. Continuous improvement and progress is crucial for any organization.

How to Set Expectations

The following model can be used for setting expectations of your employees:

A for asking questions

C for checking if the message is delivered correctly

T for tracking progress

Asking Questions

Who wants to be told to do things? Hence, asking is better than telling when communicating your expectations.

For example: you want your employees to keep the work area clean. So instead of telling them, set expectations by asking do you need a duster? This question may compel the employee to think about the condition of his or her work area. In other words, it will lead the employees to think about cleanliness.

Check If the Message was Understood

Telling people to do things, though not welcomed, is still the most common practice. However, when you ask questions to hint the underlying expectation, its imperative to find out if the employee has correctly understood the message.

For example: to check if the message of cleanliness was received, ask.  “Do you think we should have an award for the best desk every month?” If the employee has understood why you are asking, he or she is likely to say yes or offer another good idea.

Track the Progress

You have articulated your expectation and it has been understood. The next step is to track the progress. Meeting expectations by your employee is your responsibility. So check the progress at a regular interval like daily, weekly, monthly, etc.

Tips for Setting Expectations

1. Write the progress of the employee’s performance in a journal. This will tell you if your plan is working or not. It will also tell you what additional efforts you need to put in to make it a success.
2. Use stories to drive your point. In a story, you not only weave a lot of information into the telling but you also arouse your listener’s emotions and energy.
3. The employee cannot perform in isolation. The organization’s growth is a collective effort, its teamwork. Hence, motivate them to work together by using collaborative language. For example, “We will figure out something” instead of “You must make this work.”
4. Model the behavior you want to see from others. There is nothing more powerful for employees than observing the big boss do the actions or behaviors s/he is requesting from others.

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