I’m told that one quote preachers try to live by is, “If it’s foggy in the pulpit, it’s cloudy in the pew.” In other words, as the leader and communicator, if you’re unclear about any part of your message, it’s a sure bet everyone else is as well.
You don’t have to be a preacher to risk setting unclear expectations. If you’re responsible for performance outcomes of any kind, unclear expectations could be your biggest kryptonite. In fact, if the expectations you set are unclear, you force members of your team to work as much as three times as hard.
Consensus on the Intention Must Be Reached
With unclear expectations, before any work can be done, the folks performing the work must determine what they think the expectations are. Depending on the size or scope of the project, this could require significant time and energy. When an entire team is involved, the level of effort, time and cost adds up quickly.
The Original Work Must Be Completed
Regardless of expectations, the team must complete the initial set of tasks.
Constant Troubleshooting Must Be Performed
This is where the cost really multiplies. Whenever new information comes in, the team must halt their progress and redirect. In many unfortunate cases, additional re-work is required.
And this doesn’t factor in the cost of morale lost in the process!
So how can you make sure you’re expectations are clear as crystal?
First, always assume that the expectations you give will be misinterpreted. Then go the extra mile to reiterate your message. At the very least, for everyone performing the work, provide clarity of outcome and clarity of role.
One of the reasons the best bosses have the highest engaged teams is because everyone knows where they stand in relation to the goal. No one has to wonder and feedback can be more focused on what’s next, not what’s wrong. So go the extra inch – or mile – to create clarity from the start. Everyone comes out on top.