Leadership is more than the soft stuff. Success in managing people is dependent upon setting clear expectations, putting in place accountabilities, communicating effectively, and always taking care of your people.
Too often employees do not know what is expected of them. They wander aimlessly like a rudderless ship, doing what they think they should be doing but never quite getting it right. From the first moment you meet them at the initial job employment interview, managers must begin to define what they want them to do (roles), how you want them to do it, and how they expect them to behave—whether it is with you, other employees, or with your customers. Don’t complicate the process-be clear, be direct. If you expect all customers to be greeted with a smile, tell them. If you want your monthly reports on your desk by the 10th of every month, say it. Never assume anyone will know. And don’t think that since everyone else knows, they will too. You will be mistaken and disappointed. Unless your new employee is a mind reader, tell them what you expect.
Now, this doesn’t mean you’ll need a hammer to get your message across. A simple conversation followed by regular reminders will do. At the same time, back up your talk with actions. Keep people on course by modeling how you expect them to act. Make sure you greet each customer with a smile. Employees model the behavior of their boss. By being clear up front, you’ll avoid many headaches down the road.
Setting clear expectationswithout putting in place accountabilities is like building a corral and forgetting to close the gate and then wondering why the horses are always getting out. Accountability systems hold people to the fire; they keep people focused. They guarantee that your expectations will be met.
When people are not performing up to your expectations, tell them. And do it immediately. Not tomorrow, not when you aren’t so busy, and not at performance appraisal time. Do it when the infraction occurs. By immediately having an adult conversation, explaining what you want and why their actions were not acceptable, you increase the odds of extinguishing any bad behaviors and replacing them with what you want. Be clear about what you expect, hold everyone accountable for their actions, and communicate all this. The rules of when and how to communicate are simple. Communicate often–never think you can over communicate. Be timely–never wait. Deliver your message–your people will listen. Finally, be constructive. The blame game will never result in anything positive.
Finally, take care of your people.Your success is dependent upon having motivated and engaged employees. So ensuring that they are taken care of is essential. But that does not mean you hold their hands and sing ”kumbaya.” Taking care of people means different things to different people. It means treating your people respectfully. It means listening to them and showing flexibility. And it means developing relationships based on mutual trust.
Excerpted from the book Uncomplicating Management by Rick Dacri