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If You’re Unclear, Nothing Else Matters

If you’re not satisfied with how your people are performing, maybe it’s time to back up and check whether your expectations are clear.

The fact is that even though you may assume your people are clear about their roles and responsibilities, often that’s not the case. And if you, as the managing partner or CEO, never raise the issue, your people are likely to stay in the dark fumbling around ineffectively.

Accountability begins with people really understanding what we expect from them. Actually, it even begins before that: with our understanding of what we expect from other people. If we don’t know, how can we expect others to know?

If you’re not in the habit of clarifying your people’s role and responsibilities, no one is accountable for what needs to be done.

Take Eric, for example, who is the Vice-President of a large construction company. Eric was having difficulties with Ted, one of his project managers. I was brought in to facilitate a three-way meeting to mediate an upfront agreement and get everyone on the same page.

One of the first questions I asked Ted was, “What is your understanding of the role of a project manager?” Now, Ted is in his 40s and has been with this company for 10 years. Yet as he started to answer this seemingly elementary question, it was clear that his understanding of the role was miles away from the traditional job description of a project manager.

No wonder he wasn’t getting done the things Eric expected. They weren’t even on his radar! I was completely blown away by just how far apart Ted and Eric were in their understanding of Ted’s job description.

Eric thought Ted just wasn’t living up to his job requirements, or maybe even that he was lazy or ineffective. That’s why you can never assume anything until you go back and get some clarity of expectation and responsibilities.

In our accountability session, we had to back up, get Eric and Ted on the same page, and then reconstruct their working relationship with an upfront agreement that clearly states what Eric’s role and responsibilities are.

It may be harder to raise the issue with the people who’ve been with you the longest, but they’re the ones you really have to worry about it. They’ve been off doing their own thing for years now, and may have gotten farther and farther away from your definition of what they should be doing.

So no matter how long they’ve been working for you, how much money they make, their education or level of tenure, stop NOW to ensure that every single person working with you is clear about your expectations.

Are you and your people on the same page? If not, Alan M. Dobzinski is a masterful meeting facilitator who can quickly get to the root of the problem, turning miscommunication and misunderstandings into harmonious clarity. Contact him today to get started.