It is critical for a business owner to communicate expectations to employees. I believe that nearly every employee comes to work with the intention of doing a good job. Obviously, there are going to be some exceptions, some outliers. You deal with those cases individually based on the specifics in those situations. But most people want to do a good job.
The problem lies in the fact that most people don’t necessarily know what a good job looks like for the job they’ve been hired to do. If they want to do a good job but they don’t know what a good job looks like, they’re still going to try to do a good job. But the question is… is what they’re trying to do what the business really needs?
The way you wind up achieving that is to communicate expectations. How do you communicate what those expectations are? There are some very tried and true methods to do it. First off, every position in a business should have a position description. It should have a description of where that person and where that position fits within the organizational chart of the business. It should have a plan showing how that person communicates issues up or down the chain of command and whether they are empowered to deal with issues themselves.
The position description should include everything that person is responsible for doing for the company. If you don’t have a position description, create one. Have each employee list out the top ten things that they need to do for their job. And you as the owner also writes the top ten things you need that employee to do in their position. And then you compare those two top ten lists.
There may not be a lot of similarities between the two. It’s not intuitive. They need to be communicated. And guess what? The employee’s list of the top ten, some of those tasks that the employer doesn’t have on their list might be more important. So, it’s not a directive, it’s a two-way communication where you communicate expectations and the team member can communicate tactical information about the job.
It’s important that both the employer and the employee have input into that position description. It’s not a static document. It can change and morph with the skills and capabilities of the person in that position. So that’s the first part. That’s setting the expectations. But I started off saying most people come to work wanting to do a good job. They want to help the business succeed. An employee is generally invested in the success of the business. The best employees are invested heavily in the success of the business.
And how does the employee know how their work is going to help make the business better? Well, that’s through what’s called key performance indicators, KPIs. These are the leading and lagging indicators of success. They provide a goal for the employee to aim for. The employer can gauge progress by looking at the KPI’s of each employee. Communicate expectations of each employee’s KPI’s and they will know where they stand and where they can improve.
KPI’s can also enable an employer to help a team member identify the level at which they could achieve a promotion. The business owner can let the employee know that when they achieve a specific level, based on their KPI’s, they can be promoted.
According to KPI.org, good KPI’s:
- Provide objective evidence of progress towards achieving a desired result
- Measure what is intended to be measured to help inform better decision making
- Offer a comparison that gauges the degree of performance change over time
- Can track efficiency, effectiveness, quality, timeliness, compliance, behaviors, project performance, etc.
- Are balanced between leading and lagging indicators
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