(Excerpted from my book, “You Have to Say the Words“)
While people are motivated to effectively perform their job duties for a variety of reasons such as money and career advancement, successful leaders also understand that many people are equally as driven by the desire to please their boss. The trouble is some leaders are not very clear about which behaviors make them happy or do not communicate to their team when their priorities have changed. This can lead individuals to feel like they are running in circles trying to please their boss.
One of your essential responsibilities as a leader is to clearly and frequently communicate your expectations to team members. By clearly defining and communicating performance standards and expectations, you are giving people a road map for success and showing them exactly what they need to do to make you happy. Your consistent feedback lets them know when they are on target and when they have fallen short of your expectations. Some people, once they know their target, are naturally driven to succeed and will self-correct when they get off-track. These individuals may seem like they do not need a lot of feedback from you, but what happens if you don’t give them feedback and their assumptions are wrong?
I’ve always coached leaders that an absence of any feedback is the same thing as giving positive feedback. For most people, unless told otherwise, they assume that their performance is acceptable and that their manager is happy with them. Unfortunately this is not always the case, and when there is a disconnect between perception and reality, it can lead to devastating consequences.
In order to achieve outstanding results, you must provide your team with plenty of feedback, both positive and constructive, as it relates to your standards and expectations. Lack of honest and timely feedback leads to all kinds of problems for everyone involved, including the following:
- Team members can’t improve their performance because they are unaware that there is an issue.
Managers can’t get the results they need because they are allowing unsatisfactory performances to continue.
- The HR manager gets cranky when a department manager finally decides to remove the under-performer because the employee was never fully informed of the issues and given a chance to improve.
- And finally, the company may face an increased chance of legal exposure as a result of the lack of documentation and is hampered in its efforts to defend a lawsuit.
Your role as a team leader is to achieve results through the efforts of other people and you will be judged on that ability. Effectively articulating your standards and expectations while addressing performance issues as they arise allows you to be fair to your employees, achieve results, maintain morale, and protect the interests of the company.
Leading is an active process, not a passive one. You need to actively monitor performance and develop your people every day or you will not achieve results. If you choose to ignore issues rather than address them too many times, eventually someone will wonder about your results and your effectiveness as a leader. And if that should ever happen, I’m confident that you would want your manager to give you honest feedback in a timely manner so you can correct the problem: so pay it forward.
As always, I welcome any feedback or comments you’d like to share.