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How Do You Determine Appropriate Performance from Employees?

Just about everyone has a term for how to measure performance in employees. Some people call it metrics, and others call it key performance indicators.  


I am not all that concerned about the term you use. I’m more concerned with how you determine what’s expected of your people and who is involved with that decision-making. 


The easy thing to do is to simply dictate the expectations and let everyone know they’re expected to meet them. However, dictating expectations is not how you get the best results. If you do, people will give you the minimum effort required to deliver on those expectations, and they will give you no more than that. With no say in the expectations you set, your employees won’t buy-in or give their best effort to deliver optimal results. 


However, I am certainly not suggesting that everything be done by consensus. Someone has to be the decision maker, and sometimes it is necessary to apply the knowledge you have as a leader and assert that certain things are nonnegotiable.  

However, that doesn’t exclude engaging your people in a process to help define expectations. My observations from 20-plus years in the business world tell me that the best results come from teams who have been asked by the boss:  


How can we work together to accomplish these goals? 

How will we measure, daily or weekly, the process to get there? What does the team need from each team member in order to get there? 

People appreciate having input on these issues, but it’s more than that. Getting your team’s input will help you align your expectations with their strengths, their thinking, and their understanding of how the team is structured.  


Hearing from the members of your team about how best to accomplish these goals will allow you to set expectations they are more likely to master on an ongoing basis. Simply requesting employee input will boost engagement and the contribution each employee makes to achieving the larger goals. It will give you a solid helping of what Gallup calls discretionary effort, which is what employees are willing to give you beyond mandated requirements because they want to.  


Gallup’s research shows that engaged employees give more discretionary effort. They’re more engaged and invested in achieving the expectations that have been set — because they helped to set them. Plus, they had the chance to tell you what they do well.  


It’s still up to you to define the goals, and it’s still up to you to set the parameters in which your expectations of them have to fit. I do not believe in 100 percent management by consensus. 


However, you do need to listen to your employees and take advantage of the information they give you when setting expectations. This is how you’ll get the most engaged, the best aligned, and the most effective workforce. In other words, the best results.


This excerpt about engaging employees in defining expectations comes from the book Wake-Up Call: Insights for Entrepreneurs to Have More Freedom, Reduce Drama, and Scale Their Businesses by Wade Wyant. His book also addresses other key issues in business such as how to handle bad leadership teams, how to implement training with appropriate follow-up, and how to price products and services. Wake-Up Call focuses on helping people grow their businesses while achieving peace of mind, and it can be purchased on Amazon. 


Written by: Wade Wyant

Red Wagon Advisors



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