In First Break all the Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, they conducted a multi-year study on what the world’s greatest managers do differently. Throughout the process, they listed a few questions that the employees under great managers could all answer clearly. Like many powerful things, many of the questions are extremely simple. The number one and most important question was, "Do I know what is expected of me?" Buckingham and Coffman found after thousands of interviews that the majority of employees throughout the country could not clearly answer this question. After giving this some thought, here are a few thoughts on why being able to answer this question is so important:
1) "Do I know what is expected of me?" is not about what company I work for, what the product is, or what time I should show up. This question is addressing the long-term vision and purpose of the company as well as the annual, quarterly, and day-to-day objectives that specifically define success. This question also addresses specifically what each individual is expected to contribute.
2) Once everyone knows the expected objectives, some form of "fish bowl" style meeting rhythm is required to track and hold everyone accountable. This accountability can be uncomfortable at first, but is the only way to keep a team working together in sync. If the results aren't being achieved, this meeting rhythm also serves as a way to collaborate as a group to overcome any road blocks.
3) Creating a culture with defined expectations and a consistent meeting rhythm is up to leadership to get the ball rolling, but requires feedback and cooperation from all to be successful.
This is an area where I have failed many times in the past. Having learned from past failures, I am pleased to report that this year we have developed a clearly defined five year plan, as well as a compensation plan that specifically ties in our annual, quarterly, and day-to-day objectives. Every Friday at 1:30pm, we have an accountability call where team leaders from our different locations report the results from the individuals in their business unit. Time will tell if we are able to achieve our desired results, but at least I can be certain that no one will ask "what am I supposed to do?"