What do Great Managers Do - Part 2?

In this series on what Great Managers do I’m providing insights, tips and tools that you can use to improve your management effectiveness. Even if you’re not a manager, through these posts you can learn to evaluate how well you’re being managed. If you think it’s time to get a new manager then check out our Career Services here
In an earlier post, I featured the first thing that Great Managers do: they hire for Talent, not just experience and qualifications. You can learn more about how they do this here.

Key # 2 - Setting Key Performance Expectations

Once you’ve hired talented people it’s critically important that they know what is expected of them. However, be careful with what conventional wisdom suggests:
Conventional Wisdom
Set expectations by defining the right steps
What Great Managers do
When setting expectations they define the right outcomes not the right steps
The simple distinction here is whether you set your expectations based on the results you want or on the tasks required to achieve the results. By focusing on tasks you are running the risk of setting up the dreaded ‘Hamster Wheel’ syndrome, where people do things for no other reason than they do them. Also, you can gain a reputation for being a micro-manager who never trusts anyone. 
Big Realisation for Managers: your people will not do things the way you do them! 
Nor, should they. You probably don’t do things the way your boss does them either. 
So, unless the steps are driven by compliance or health and safety, you should not be too bothered how your talented people produce their results. Yes, pay attention to how they do it but don’t measure them on what they’re doing. Instead, specify and measure the outcomes or results you expect and have mutually agreed upon.
These are often referred to as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). 

What is an Outcome? 

Working with Senior Leaders over the years I’ve realised that not everyone knows how to define and set Outcomes. One common problem is that Outcomes get confused with Tasks.
An Outcome is not the same as a Task. An Outcome is what you want. A Task is what you have to do to achieve it. Therefore, you should not do Tasks until you set your Outcomes. 
In fact, problems cannot be solved without an Outcome. By setting them clear expectations based on well-formed Outcomes you are de facto turning your people into really good potential problem solvers themselves. 

How do you set Performance Expectations based on Outcomes? 

To help you set expectations using well-formed outcomes ask yourself these questions: 
  • What is the specific result you want the person to consistently produce? 
  • How would you know that they had produced this result? 
  • What would you be seeing, hearing, feeling or otherwise noticing? 
  • By when and where do they need to produce the result? 
  • Have you communicated this success criteria to them? 
  • Will it stretch them enough without setting them up to fail? 
  • Why does the person's job exist in the first place? 
  • How does it create or add value to your organisation?  
  • What is the impact of the person meeting your expectations? 
  • What are the consequences of them not meeting your expectations?
  • What is the purpose of a given task within a role when linked to the overall result? 
This is not an exhaustive list. However, it will give you clarity and you in turn can pass on this clarity to each team member. You'll get better at formulating KPIs. 

Your next step

If you’re a manager and you want to increase your odds of motivating your people then we can arrange for you to test out Talent Analytics Tools for FREE!

If you’re an employee, who is frustrated at the lack of clear direction in your organisation, then you can introduce us to your HR people and we’ll do the rest. 

If you're a consultant who wants to make a real difference to people's lives then get in touch. 

Our mission at Wide Circle is to provide the best Talent Analytics tools and programs to ensure that the right people are in the right jobs for them so they can consistently perform at their best.

We believe that everyone deserves this fair chance in life. 

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