When to set expectations, how language choice effects perception, which words carry weight, and which words are forgotten, how to create a feedback loop that puts the ownership on the employee.
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- The majority of performance problems can be traced back to lack of clear expectations. Language is everything. It's your connection to your employees. The challenge for you as a leader is that what may seem clear to you is not always clear to your employee. So here are two things you can do to make sure that your team understands your expectations and that they're excited about meeting them. So, the first thing is, keep it brief and concise.
Now, one of the things you have to know about the millennials, they grew up in the text world. And in n a 140 character universe, brevity matters. They've been socialized to only respond to clear, succinct, and straightforward messaging. So when you're setting expectations don't drag it on, just get to the point. And let's be honest, this is a good practice no matter what type of employee you're dealing with. Give the outcome you expect in concise and straightforward language. For example, instead of saying can you work on this proposal, I think it could be better.
Clients like to see blah, blah, blah, blah, blah lengthy description. Keep it simple. Say, please tighten up the language on this proposal. Make it 25% shorter and more compelling for the client. And get it back to me on Friday. Simple. And then you want to confirm that the employee understands and they can execute it. It's always a good question to ask. Do you have what you need to get this done? How can I support you in getting this done? The second thing you want to do with expectations is you want to tie goals and expectations back to the impact, most importantly, the customer impact.
So, let's look at two different ways of communicating expectations. So, Elizabeth, I want to talk to you about your numbers. - Okay. - It's really important that you get 10 projects going every single month. - Mmm, hmmm. - You know, this number is so important. - Got it. Ten. - Yeah, you know, because everyone's looking at the numbers. Your number rolls up to my number. All of our numbers go into the boss's number and the board is really looking at these. So it's important that you get 10 going every single month. - I understand. - Yeah, 'cause these numbers, I mean, this is everything.
Like, if my numbers aren't good my boss doesn't look good. It causes problems. The board is on us, I mean they are really on these numbers. - 10. - Yep. Ten a month so your super clear, right? - Got it. - Ten a month. - Got it. - Okay, great. I'm glad you understand. - Mmmm. Hmmm. - In that conversation, there was nothing about a win for the employee and there was nothing about the impact on the customer. That conversation was all about helping the boss hit the number. Important? Yes.
But, that is not emotionally engaging. Remember, the millennials, and everyone else, wants purpose and meaning in their job. So, what would happen if you tried it this way, instead? - So, Elizabeth, I want to talk to you about your numbers. - Okay. - So, how are you doing? - Well, I'm about halfway to my number. I know I'm supposed to be starting 10 new projects a month but my success in the mid-size market is fine and I'm really having trouble with these enterprise projects. - What do you think's going on? What's the problem? - Well, you know our case studies are really great for the mid-size market, but when I'm taking the case studies for the enterprise team, I feel like they're a little bit dated and they don't really reflect where we are now as a company.
- Mmmmm. You know, I think you might be right. What can we do? What would make us seem more relevant? - What if I made some new case studies or made some tweaks and integrated some of our more current clients? - You know, I think that'd be a great idea. So, I want you to go talk to somebody in marketing to make sure these are really crisp. And I really want you to be thinking about what is it going to take to make me relevant and compelling in front of these big customers. - Okay. - 'Cause I know you need to do 10 a month and I don't want it to be a struggle for you every single month. - Okay. I'll work on it. - Okay. I think this is a great idea and we'll talk about it next week.
- Okay. - Now I want you to compare and contrast those two scenarios. Both conversations had the same goal. They wanted to help the employee hit the number. But, which one of those do you think was more effective? The first conversation had the goal of meeting the number but there was no logical next step at the end of that conversation. The employee's just sort of nodding and saying yeah, yeah, yeah. And you got to keep in mind, it was ignoring something that's really important.
Purpose. Meaning. Impact. Here's some information that you might find helpful. 71% of millennials who strongly agree with this statement, I know what my organization stands for, are the millennials who say they plan to be with their company for at least one year. Now, that second conversation addressed that purpose and meaning. Because it opened the conversation around customer impact and the sales process. That second conversation would have likely uncovered some challenges that the first conversation just skipped right over.
So, be concise and focus on impact, purpose, meaning. If you do those two things you will ensure that your expectations are met and that you have an employee who wants to meet them with enthusiasm.
- Framing the problem
- Interviewing millennials
- Communicating with millennials
- Engaging and retaining millennial talent
- Providing feedback and positive incentives
- Letting millennial employees go