If you don’t know where you’re going, you might wind up someplace else.–Yogi Berra.
As a manager, set expectations for your team to put them on the right path. Don’t forget to include goals, history and background information, a list of resources, steps in the approval process, deadlines, and who they may go to for help. After all, a goal without a plan is just a thought.
I often hear managers complain that they don’t have time to provide this direction. Instead, directions are given verbally or sent through a quick email and managers eventually follow up if a deadline is missed or they need something different than their staff provides. Is the time spent redirecting, clarifying, or having to put out a fire worth it? Do these back-end fixes support your staff and their morale?
Why not try a different approach by answering these questions as you deliver projects or even a simple request to complete a task?
- What is the goal (e.g., increase revenue, analysis of options)?
- Is there additional history or background information that would be useful (e.g., task originated from Board directive, “pet” project of the president)?
- What resources would be helpful (e.g., related articles or memos on the topic, hyperlinks to e-files and websites)?
- What are the steps in the approval process (e.g., manager reviews, finance approves)?
- What is the deadline and are there interim check-in times (e.g., first draft due to me on October 15, feedback to you by October 20, deadline to CEO November 1)?
- Who may they go to for more help (e.g., co-worker, outside consultant)?
Once you’ve provided this information, give your staff time to review it and set up time to meet and discuss it. Offer them the opportunity to ask questions and offer alternative pathways to completing the project.
And I will end this with another quote, this advice from my mom: All of the time and energy you invest now in providing direction, listening, and setting expectations will save you a lot of headaches later.
So, ask yourself, does your staff know where they are going? If not, what direction can you start providing today?
Related blog: Are you ready to create your own success?