A little while back, I spoke to my friend Jason. Jason was a mid-level manager at the company where he worked, but he was still responsible for creating the vision and setting clear expectations. In his position, he was a leader in every sense of the word and faced all the regular leadership challenges.
One particular challenge that Jason faced came from the inability of others to set clear expectations. As a mid-level manager, Jason reported to leaders within his organization. They regularly gave him big projects to work on that helped move the company towards some of the overall corporate goals. At the time I spoke to him, he had received a number of projects from his superiors. His frustration at the time was that they had not given him clear clear expectations.
The importance of clear expectations
As Jason began working on the projects, he asked for additional clarification on what he should do. They clarified to the point where Jason felt he had clear expectations, so he began working towards the completion of the projects. In many cases, Jason’s vision for the projects was greater than the vision of his superiors. He worked very hard on each project to get the projects done. Once he was done, he presented his work to his superiors for approval. They would inevitably say he had done a great job, but he needed to add some things here or change some things there. Many of the changes were extensive and required a lot of work.
To eliminate the drastic changes once the project was complete, Jason changed his approach. He decided that from the very beginning of each project, he would ask many more questions to get a deeper clarification so he would start with clear expectations. As he began this change in process, he realized that his own superiors didn’t have clear expectations of their anticipated outcome. This brought to light the importance of setting clear expectations from the very beginning. Jason’s own superiors didn’t have clear expectations, so how could they possible set clear expectations for others?
So what can we learn from this? As a leader, it is very important to set clear expectations for those you lead. So how can you do this?
Set clear expectations to clarify your vision and goals
It is extremely important to clarify your thoughts so you can set clear expectations. If you don’t, you will waste a lot of time and money. In Jason’s situation, he spent extra time and effort doing things according the original expectations but then having to redo everything once the expectations were changed. This resulted in an ineffective use of valuable resources. Jason’s time and effort could have been better spent on other things that would have led to the end result.
As a leader, before you propose a new vision, set a new goal, or try to set clear expectations for others, make sure you have everything straight in your own mind. Clarify your own ideas so you can convey them successfully. There are many tools you can use. Some of those tools include idea mapping, outlining your thoughts, having open discussions, etc. If you need to, take extra time to get your thoughts clear so you don’t go down a road and then have to turn around and go back to where you started.
Be detailed when explaining your expectations
To set and explain clear expectations, it is very important to understand your audience. Your audience may have a lot of experience or limited experience. Either way, you should assume they know less than what you think they know. I say that in the sense that you will need to be very detailed in your explanation. Don’t be condescending when you explain your clear expectations because it will probably alienate the people you are trying to help. Explain your expectations very clearly so that the least experienced person can understand everything. It can be easy to get in a hurry and rush through your preparation and explanation because everything is so familiar to you, but if you do that, you will lose detail. The details are very important when explaining clear expectations.
As a leader, clear expectations are very important for the success of your organization. They are especially important In today’s economy, because they lead to the efficient use of your time, money, and efforts. When you are set clear expectations from the very beginning, you increase production and efficiency.
So what tips do you have for setting the clear expectations? How do you verify that those you lead understand your expectations? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!