Best Practices

Expect the Best: Set High Expectations to Help Reach Your Goals

By Richard Voreis

I’d like to begin this article with a couple of important questions. First, do you have high expectations for your company, yourself and your employees? Second, are you personally a motivating example for your employees who follow your leadership? If you want your company to excel to the highest levels, including maximizing profitability, then all of this is necessary; it all starts with you.

Employee action plans (also known as objectives) state how you and your employees will support the company goals to achieve success. Ideally, everyone in your company should be accountable for success; action plans make that happen.

HAVE HIGH EXPECTATIONS

Both you and your employees should strive to excel. Here are some guide-lines to follow:

• Always have high expectations for yourself and employees;

• Always have high expectations for completing action plans;

• Sometimes, added initiatives are necessary;

• Make objectives challenging;

• Avoid setting “artificial” action plans;

• Think and talk positively; and

• Make sure everyone knows that results count.

Everything is easier if you’ve hired employees who like to take the initiative, are results-oriented and expect the best of themselves.

In many of my company’s consulting assignments we evaluate the employee organization, as well as receive their input on job satisfaction, what they like and don’t like about working for the company, etc.

DON’T BUILD IN ESCAPE CLAUSES

Keep in mind that:

• A degree of risk is acceptable; and

• Changing conditions are not unusual.

Sometimes employees will try to escape responsibility for completing some of their objectives or not completing them by the target date. While 100 percent completion is not expected, changing conditions aren’t unusual. Don’t let your employees offer “escape clauses” or weak excuses for not getting these done.

LET’S TALK ABOUT RISK

Encourage your staff to make their own decisions. While you may think that’s a risk on your part, it’s most often a risk worth taking. You can and should be a major influence, but let them make the decision so they’re committed to the goal and so you capitalize on these important human motivational traits.

And, remember to give the credit and share the blame. Poor managers want to look good at their staff ’s expense and good managers want their employees to look good. To grow is to risk; to risk is to make mistakes—and mistakes are acceptable as long as they’re a learning experience and don’t happen too often.

Expect objectives to be accomplished by a specific date. Keep in mind:

• Continually missing dates indicates poor performance;

• Continually accepting missed dates condones poor performance;

• Set realistic dates for accomplishment;

• Remember that today’s knowledge may unknowingly set unrealistic dates of accomplishments;

• Be reasonable and understanding;

• Set the right example for others to follow;

• Maintain high expectations.

The second bullet point is extremely important. If you continually accept missed dates, then you’re condoning poor performance; that will reinforce poor performance in the future. Maintain high expectations and expect most of the employees to meet most of their action plans most of the time.

REMEMBER THIS

If you continually accept missed dates from an employee, others will think they can also neglect completing their objectives. Remember, making exceptions can create problems within the entire employee organization.

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