Great expectations

We’ve all heard the cliche ‘being on the same page’, but what does it take for you and your team to get there? Caroline Bolderston examines how principals and lead agents can make their expectations clear and have their team meet them – every time.

Have you ever asked yourself, ‘Am I expecting too much?’

It’s a question principals and lead agents ask frequently.

It usually comes up when they are frustrated, disappointed and the performance and follow through of their team members has let them down.

It’s rare that the leader’s expectations are too high.

Instead, there is often a gap between the expectations of each party and this can have a massive impact on what is, or isn’t, achieved.

Closing the expectation gap is critical if you want to build trust, commitment and enhance the performance of your team, regardless of their role.

The good news is that mastering the following strategies will not only improve the leadership outcomes in your business life but will also flow on to your personal life.

How good would that be?

Follow these six strategies to quickly and easily change the status quo:

1 Challenge your beliefs

The experiences we have shape our opinions and our beliefs drive our actions and results.

Based on these beliefs we set rules around what we expect to happen in any given situation.

These rules can often hold leaders back from implementing new ideas or strategies as they have a fixed expectation of the team’s response based on past experiences.

Challenge and question these beliefs so they do not prevent great leadership moments.

2 Be specific

When communicating an expectation on a deadline, task or initiative, drill down into the fine detail of what a great outcome looks like.

Give specific time frames and clear examples of what will meet the expected standards and what won’t.

Your team will have a much better chance of delivering on your expectations if they genuinely know the specifics and what they look like.

3 The value of feedback

Willingly embrace feedback on yourself as a leader and the business as a whole. As a leader, you should expect you can do better each and every day.

The best way to have your team respect and value working with you is to ask the simple question, ‘What more can I do as a leader to support your performance and success?’

Do not shy away from asking if you are not meeting the leadership expectations of your team – the pain is in the ongoing disappointment they might feel, not in the feedback.

At least now you have a chance to rectify it.

The fastest way to erode trust and commitment is when a leader puts a new system, process or initiative in place and allows it to rapidly fade away to nothing.

4 Onboard like a pro

It’s unbelievable how often the simple, but critical, onboarding process is skipped.

When a new member joins the team, you must provide them with the structure and clarity on what you expect from them.

Detailed job descriptions, clear performance indicators, targets, benchmarks and standards of performance must be documented and shared on day one.

How can someone perform well if they do not have this structure in place to follow?

5 Ongoing development

Daily work-in-progress meetings, weekly reviews (for the first six weeks) and monthly development meetings are the fastest way for any team member to meet expectations.

Most people want to know when they are doing well and expect to be informed when they are not.

Do not drop the ball or tread lightly on this.

It is one of the most important leadership responsibilities to lead, mentor and inspire great performance.

6 Follow up and Follow through

The final step to ‘great expectations’ is to follow through on what you implement or promise.

The fastest way to erode trust and commitment is when a leader puts a new system, process or initiative in place and allows it to rapidly fade away to nothing.

If you put something new into the operational mix, don’t do it lightly; ensure you have a plan in place to follow through to meet the expectations of the team.

If you master just one of these strategies each week, you will drive greater commitment, loyalty and retention in your team.

It may only take six weeks to close the expectation gap and for disappointment to become a thing of the past.

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Caroline Bolderston

Caroline Bolderston heads up Being Bold Coaching and training, which provides coaching and support for Sales Agents, Sales Teams and Principals. For more information visit beingbold.com.au