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Do your team really know what they should be doing?

I have had numerous conversations with  numerous businesses over the past month about under performance within their business' processes. They haven't been achieving the results that they had hoped for and don't seem to be too happy about what their staff have been up to. It was pretty much the same conversation repeated for each business I spoke with.

When I responded to these businesses I asked them about the clarity their team had about their roles. I was interested to find out what each individual business leader had done to make sure that the requirements of their processes, the business' needs and their own requirements had been passed on effectively. Having clear expectations in terms of activity, performance and deliverables is key to ensuring that your processes are being executed in the most effective manner. Well executed processes usually lead to good results if the process has been designed to be effective and efficient.

If you spell out exactly how you want to see a team member perform then you have the best chance of seeing it in practice. This is not being autocratic (they can improve the situation, of course!) this is about providing clarity to your team about what the standards are and what you need as a manager and what the business needs in terms of performance. Many people baulk when I mention this and respond that "they [their staff] should know what they need to do". Although I agree with this comment, in principle, most of my time is focused on getting results which means that I don't spend a huge amount of time worrying about 'being right', which leads me to the next point.

Once you have clarity you can then manage the results. You can provide the right training and support because you know that your team understand what they should be achieving. This makes the whole process of supporting your team more tangible; you are all working towards a common goal. Too many companies spend time and money trying to support people when the fundamental requirements of the team members, the expectations held by senior management, aren't clear to those being helped. You can show anyone how to manage their time more effectively but if you don't tell them what kinds of things you want them to produce (and how many) how can they plan their time?

When management is effective then you can embrace improvement. When the foundations of standards, expectations and results are in place then you can start to extend the good work and make the situation better and better. Without these foundations there is a good chance that the benefits you have gained from making changes crumble away in the near future. When the foundations are in place then you can build from strength to strength and make a real difference to the outcomes you are experiencing today.


continuous improvement vision


If you take the time to clarify what you need and want from your processes and translate this across to the people that can make it happen you have the makings of an effective business. Whether you choose to communicate this information through job descriptions, standard operating procedures, key performance indicators or team meetings it doesn't matter. Get clear about what you need your team to do for you and find a way to make it clear for them too.

The results you achieve in your business going forward should prove this point - clarity and clear expectations help you get better results.


Giles


About the author Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes. Giles is also the author of Business Process Re-Engineering and creator of the 'Making It Happen' continuous improvement toolkit.