Managers, are your employees doing what you expect of them? If not, you might want to consider this: Are you sure they know what you expect?
A friend of mine recently got hired into a managerial position. I asked her how it was going, and she spent some time telling me about the failure of the employees to do “what I expect of them.” So my next question was, “What do you expect of them?” A reasonable question, right?
When I asked this question she had trouble identifying everything she expected from her employees. If she had a little difficulty, do you think the employees may also have a little trouble? If this story sounds like it describes you and your employees, there is an approach that can help -the use of job descriptions, objectives, and regular performance evaluations.
I asked my friend, “do you have a job description and objectives for each employee?” She didn’t. She thought the environment they worked in didn’t need this, and that the employees knew what they needed to do.
The responsibilities and priorities of a position must be clearly understood by managers and employees. It helps both parties to have a clear and concise outline of what is expected on a daily, weekly, monthly, or annual basis. These objectives can be developed together by a manager and an employee so that both are aware of, and agree on, what is supposed to be done. A job description and objectives don’t make a “bad” employee “good” but it does communicate expectations to the employee. Then there is no question later as to whether or not the employee knew what the manager wanted.
So do you hand them a job description at the start of the year and then sit down with them at the end of the year to determine if they did their job well? No! That doesn’t help anyone very much. Finding out in December that they’ve been doing their job wrong since last January doesn’t help the employee, the manager, or the company. Managers, please meet with your employees regularly, either informally or in a formal performance evaluation. Give them feedback, tell them if they’re meeting your expectations, and if not, how they can improve. Give them the chance to better their performance before the end of the year arrives.
So you’ve done all the above, and the employees still don’t meet your expectations? There could be several reasons why employees don’t meet managers’ expectations.
1) They don’t have a clear understanding of what those expectations are and they receive no feedback
2) There are inadequate resources or obstacles the managers are not aware of
For example - The shelf stocker is stocking only 100 cases per hour instead of 150 cases because he is hand-carrying them and needs a dolly.
3) Unfavorable consequences decrease the likelihood of a repeat performance
For example – Doctors aren’t using new computers to enter notes, per hospital orders, because the computers are placed in inaccessible locations and waste doctors’ time. The solution – move the computers so there aren’t negative consequences for the doctors to use them.
4) Desired performance may be unknowingly punished and undesired performance is rewarded
For example – If employees are showing up late for a meeting, and those who arrive on time always have to wait for the latecomers, soon everyone will intentionally arrive late.
5) Water the performance you want to grow / Make it matter
Don’t just assume that people should want to do something right. If there are no consequences for right or wrong behavior people may not understand the importance of doing something a particular way.
6) Determine if it is a skill deficiency
Your employees may know what is expected of them but not have the ability to perform. Modify their job or train them so they can meet the level of performance required. Training and development would be a logical next consideration, however, it is too common that organizations assume training is needed before asking the above questions.
People often don’t perform as we want them to, at work, at school, and at home. You can use these suggestions to identify the cause of the problem, starting with making sure they know what is expected of them.
Rose Opengart, Ph.D., PHR is an Assistant Professor of Business Administration for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She teaches from home in Signal Mountain, TN and focuses on Human Resources Management and Organizational Behavior courses. She also consults on talent acquisition and career development needs.