Unmet Expectations Can Erode Your Position as Leader

Joe Weinlick
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Employee morale quickly fizzles out when you repeatedly fail to reach team goals. As a leader, it's easy to blame employees for underperforming or not listening, but recurring problems could be a sign you aren't communicating your expectations well. Overtime, employees might lose confidence in your leadership abilities or stop giving their best efforts. If you want to guide your team to success, avoid communication flaws that throw team goals off track.

Figure Out What Went Wrong

Visualize what happens in a typical project meeting. When you assign tasks, do you make sure employees know what's at stake and why? Problems develop when management focuses too much on "what" needs to get done and not "why" or "how." If you aren't clear about how a project impacts key stakeholders, your employees will make their own assumptions. The vaguer you are about your expectations, the more you leave important parts of your project open to interpretation.

Assumptions derail team goals when you don't give employees enough time to work out any questions or concerns they have about the project. Employees don't always know exactly what you mean. If you move forward without making sure everyone is on the same page, you miss out on valuable feedback and criticism. Not to mention, your team is likely to overlook problems and prioritize the wrong tasks.

Make Project Meetings More Productive

Hitting the same roadblocks over and over can make your staff feel like their efforts lead nowhere. You question their work ethic, and they stop trusting your judgment, which slowly eats away at team relationships. To prevent this erosion, productively manage team goals during meetings. Breaking down the elements of a job ensures clarity across the entire team and allows you to address complications before committing too many resources.

Beyond tasks and deadlines, explain how you define a job well done. To accomplish this, you need a clear direction in your own mind, which is where many poor leaders fall short. Being accountable to your team forces you to present fully fleshed out ideas or open the floor to better suggestions. Establish criteria, priorities and checkpoints. Employees can easily cripple a project right from the start when they lack strong guidelines. Providing a frame of reference can help your team narrow its focus and decide which team goals are most important.

Stay Involved at Every Stage

As the final gatekeeper on a project, you should be part of the process until the very end. Build checkpoints into your workflow, so you can resolve conflicts as they arise. Communicating frequently with your staff lets you offer help when they need it or inform them when they're on the right track. Sometimes, a project doesn't go well, despite thorough planning. However, employees are more likely to stay positive and invested if everyone takes responsibility for their roles in the problem.

No matter who's at fault, communication breakdowns leave everyone feeling shortchanged. Give employees the information they need to achieve team goals, and resist the tendency to pass blame when problems arise. Encouraging mutual accountability and support is the best way to maintain trust and keep employee morale high, even when times are tough.

Photo courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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