Monday, August 8, 2011

Great Expectations

"We tend to live up to our expectations." --- Earl Nightingale

The production factor of an employee shoots skyward when that employee knows what is expected of him. It increases even more when that employee knows how their part in the production process contributes to the overall bottom line of the business.

Here are four steps you can use to make sure that your employees know what is expected of them:

1.) Communicate what -- Whether it is a new hire or a seasoned employee, communicating what needs to be done is a given. It seems too obvious to even list here, but so many employers allow their employees to take off running without giving them direction on what needs to be done. The basic tool to explain the "what" begins with a well-written job description. Beyond that, employees need to have either a fellow employee or supervisor to serve as mentor until the what becomes second nature.

2.) Communicate how -- The "how" of the what can and should also be included in the job description. This too is a critical area that the mentor or trainer can train and educate the employee on the best practices to follow for the best outcome of the job.

3.) Communicate when -- Parameters should be spelled out clearly in the employee handbook as to when the employee is to report to work, the times of breaks and lunch periods, and when the shift will end. Beyond these boundaries, the employee will need precise and clear instructions on the time limits of special projects he or she might be required to complete.

4.) Communicate why -- Probably the most neglected and for sure one of the most important elements of communicating expectations is the "why." Communicating the why is so important because it gives the employees the sense of being a part of the cause. Knowing the why seals the deal for them in that it causes the employee to take ownership of the work process or project. It is the icing on the cake of the what, how, and when.

Remember that when communicating with employees, it is helpful to state your expectations (the what, how, when, and why) several times and in several different ways. I recommend communicating both verbally and in writing and then repeat the communication again over time using different styles.
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