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Posted: May 21, 2013

One thing every manager must do

Define this for success

Timothy LaMacchio

Employees and teams crave direction from their manager.  They need a manager to communicate clear and consistent expectations about their work. 

Without management expectations to direct daily efforts, employees are forced to work blind, guessing about:

o The purpose of the business
o Their contribution to business priorities
o Outcomes or goals they must achieve
o Best methods and daily tasks to achieve the outcomes
o Rules for completing work
o Things open for discussion
o Evidence of progress

The results of this employee uncertainty are predictable: Floundering efforts, wasted resources and unmotivated employees – a manager’s worst nightmare. 

Define Job Success

Many managers establish employee expectations and direction without first defining job success.  This “picture of performance” plays a vital role in the success of any employee and team. 

Defining job success entails identifying the benefit an employee’s knowledge, skills and expertise can bring to achieving the strategic business goals. 

Without asking and answering, “How will the employee or team know they are successful?” managers are unable to define job success.   Absent this definition, managers fail to establish employee expectations, goals and direction.

To answer this critical success-defining question, managers consider three sources of information.

Source #1: Business Goals and External Customer

Every employees/team exists for one purpose.  They must contribute to the achievement of strategic business goals. 

Defining job success requires first defining business success for the organization. 

Managers define job success by understanding the:
o Goals and accomplishments that make the business successful.
o Needs and desires of the external customer. 

These measures of business success play a critical role in the expectations and direction managers establish for their employees and team.

Source #2: Needs of Internal Customers

Your team can never contribute to the business goals working alone.  Your team’s work can benefit the business only when working collaboratively with your internal customers.     

To define job success and establish management expectations, you must:
o Understand how the work of your team combines with the work of your internal customers to contribute to the business goals and meet the needs of external customer.
o Identify the needs of your internal customers --- how the internal customer is dependent on your team. 

Once a manager sees how to work collaboratively with their internal customers to achieve the business goals --- they can establish employee expectations and goals.  

Source #3: Common Team Problems

Identifying common problems your team experiences enables it to pursue improvements and change.  Targeting this improved performance, you can define job success, then establish employee expectations and goals that direct daily work toward that definition of success.  

Drawing on these three sources of information, managers can give their team the direction and guidance they need to be motivated, engaged and successful.  

Share your experience about management expectations and direction with other professional by leaving a reader response and comment. Use these thought-provoking questions to help initiate a discussion:

What is hindering you from receiving clear direction and expectations from you manager?

What is most difficult about establishing clear and directing expectations or goals for your team?

How is employee engagement and morale impacted when work flounders instead of being focused on a clear purpose?

Timothy LaMacchio is the owner of www.GoToManagers.com. A Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, he works with organizations to connect everyday “desk-level” work to strategic business goals. Tim solves a problems root cause --- not just the symptoms.  His practical solutions develop people and the environment people need to perform. Tim's work is about providing new knowledge and skills and achieving business results. Contact Timothy at tel@GoToManagers.com or 303.917.5775

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