5 Steps for Creating Clear Role Expectations

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  • How many of the performance issues inside your organization are caused by unclear expectations?
  • How often do people get off track and finish a task that is all wrong?
  • How much time is wasted because of things not discussed?

In all my years of training and consulting, one of the biggest challenges I’ve found is expectations. Each employee, leader and owner walks in the door with a set of expectations. I assert that 90% of the time the expectations are in our head and are never shared, causing a ripple effect of upset disappointment and thwarted intentions.

Clarifying role expectations in organizations creates shared understanding and agreement upfront. Stephen Covey calls it the behavior of prevention — avoiding heart aches and headaches beforehand. Here’s the power that one company experienced after we helped them clarify expectations:

Prior to the formal role expectation work we did, our management team was less than cohesive. We were fractured and team members were filled with animosity, hurt and feelings of being disrespected.
After some hard and sometimes intense discussions we put the issues on the table, worked through them and defined our role expectations. It may be cliché, but getting everyone on the same page was huge. It enabled us to get past the past. The results were working relationships improved, communication was easier and more frequent, and efforts were made to improve trust.

One of the most effective ways that I’ve found to clarify team expectations involves a five step process. It’s a very easy, yet effective, format that defines how people want to be treated and what coworkers, superiors and subordinates expect of each other.

Five Steps for Creating Clear Role Expectations

Step 1. CLARIFY: Determine what do you need this person to do more of, to do less of and what you want this person to continue to doing the same of. Lastly determine what you appreciate about this person.
Step 2. RECORD: Write down this information in specific sections. Here’s a sample role clarification form.
Step 3. DISCUSS: Share your form with your team member or your boss. Send it to them in advance to give them time to review it and come up with questions and other ideas. Meet and talk about each section in detail, including what you appreciate about this person.
Step 4. AGREE: Once you talk about your expectations and agree on them along with any new actions that are to be taken as a result, then incorporate it as a formal team agreement form where each party agrees to the new actions/behaviors each will be taking. Determine agreement check in meeting interval periods such as every 30 days.
Step 5. CHECK IN: Meet with your team member or boss to check in every 30 days (or quarterly) on this role expectation agreement and new behaviors.
This is an ongoing role expectation process that keeps the lines of communication open, improves clarity and increases satisfaction and fulfillment.
We’d love to hear your thoughts. What other actions have been taken in your organization to clarify role expectations?

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