Does Your Team Know What You Expect Of Them?

Dave Buckland


Does your team know what you expect of them?

It’s a simple truth; expectations are hard to meet if you don’t know what they are. Too often small businesses skip the important practice of providing specific goals and competency expectations for their teams. This leads to inconsistent performance and worse, undefined expectations. On a weekly basis I meet business owners and members of leadership teams, and all too often they share that they have no HR department and no formal performance management in place. Many claim they are too busy, or don’t have the funds to invest to make it happen, and I say this is a huge mistake.


Study after study, not to mention personal witness, has shown that the most important factor in great performance and retention is working for a cause that you believe in. Sure, pay counts - vacation days, benefits, etc., all matter - but most people look at that stuff as standard. It’s the cause that counts. And to be clear, the cause I’m referring to does not infer an action for social advocacy. It’s simpler than that. It’s a reason for being.

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It’s more about defining your business or department why, what and how and putting a performance management process in place to support and achieve the outcomes that are most important to your businesses. We don’t deny it, we often just don’t acknowledge how defining the cause and linking it to performance will take your team and business to higher performing levels you currently think are possible.


There is magic when you stand up and say “this is why we exist” and do it consistently.” When you can equally tie that reason to everyone’s contribution in making that outcome as awesome, fun and efficient as possible … well, who wouldn’t like being a member of that team?

So where do you begin?

First, you have to make sure the why, what and how are clear. You might think it is, but if you asked 10 employees “what is our why?” Do you think you would get the same answer at least 6 out of 10 times? If so, you are on the right track. If not, time to figure out the why and start talking about it.

Once the why is clear to you and the team, it’s time to pull together goals and competencies for all resources. Typically a document for each employee would include 3-5 goals and 3-5 competencies. A goal is something that you want to accomplish like increasing sales 25% or implementing a new process. A competency is a foundation skill like time management, innovation, project management, etc. Once the document is in place, sit down with each person and help them understand what you expect and what the timeframe is for the next performance conversation.

There is so much power in creating these intentions and communicating them. Never again will you have another subjective review with one of your team members. You will have common language to dig into where they are doing well vs. not, and that will get you and your team on the fast track to much improved communication and performance.

Dave Buckland