Teams need clarity to perform at their best. Because everyone on the team needs their expectations clarified.
In the absence of clear expectations, your team will make assumptions that may not be realized. When that happens, disappointments are sure to follow.
Here are three steps to clarifying expectations so that everything is out in the open and you have clarity with your team.
1. Anticipate concerns.
Before you articulate your expectations, think through what concerns your team may have. List potential objections your team may raise and identify how to overcome those objections. Help them to see that your expectations are reasonable and why they are important.
Then put yourself in their place. If you were in their shoes, how would you interpret your expectations? If your expectations don’t seem as reasonable from that vantage point, then you can adjust your expectations.
2. Communicate clearly.
When you articulate your expectations, your words have to mean what your team thinks they mean. Use words that are clear to everyone, whether in writing or in conversation. If you are using terminology or vocabulary that your team isn’t familiar with, define it for them. Don’t leave the interpretation of your words up to them.
When sending emails, re-read what you’ve written to make sure it makes sense. If it is unclear, then start over again. It is always better to take the time up front to explain what you mean.
When you’re talking on the phone or in person, make sure you are being clear in what you’re saying. Don’t have any hidden meanings in what you’re trying to say. Remember: To be unclear is to be unkind.
3. Resolve misunderstandings.
When you present your expectations to the team, don’t assume that everything will be understood. Solicit feedback from your team. Ask them if they have any questions. Even though you have tried to anticipate their concerns, you will likely not think of everything they may bring forward.
Your team may have strong issues with your expectations. Listen to their concerns. Hear them out. Do not be defensive. Take their reactions as constructive input. And let them know you will consider everything they have to say.
Once you have responded to their feedback, answered their questions, and adjusted your written expectations, share your expectations with them again. After explaining the changes you made as a result of their input, then ask them for their support of the expectations.
Even though you as the leader can require their adherence to your expectations, asking them for their support will allow them to have buy-in. And then you can remind them of that buy-in later if they have difficulties with the expectations.
By taking the time to anticipate your team’s concerns, communicate clearly, and then resolving your team’s misunderstandings, you will create clarity with your team.
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