In a conversation last week I was reminded of one of the most important leadership lessons I’ve learned. It came from a member of my staff a few years ago.
I had become VERY upset with two members of our team. Because they were caught up working on an important project they failed to attend a meeting that, though optional, was equally important to me. I felt it demonstrated a lack of commitment to the team and poor priority setting. When I brought the two of them into my office to discuss their failure he began the conversation with an unforgettable observation:
Doug. I feel as if I am failing to meet the expectations that you are poorly communicating.
Think about that statement:
I am failing to meet the expectations that you are poorly communicating.
He was exactly right. The two of them had completely failed to meet my expectations, BUT I had done a lousy job in clearly communicating those expectations.
It’s a lesson that I need to be reminded of constantly. I can tend to be fairly intuitive so I expect that everyone else is equally intuitive and will understand what is expected without having to be told directly. Sometimes I go so far as to expect staff to read my mind to know what I expect from them.
The truth is it’s a good thing that no one can read my mind – but that means I have to make sure I am communicating clearly - especially when it comes to performance expectations.
So the next time someone (staff , friend, family member) fails to meet your expectations, stop and ask yourself if your poor communication is part of the problem.
What are ways you’ve found to clearly communication expectations?