How well do you communicate your expectations?

As a manager do your people understand exactly what is expected of them? Do they have a clear picture of what success looks like? Do you?

Stewart Downing at Liverpool Football Club has recently given an interview where he compared the communication styles of two of his managers, Brendan Rodgers Liverpool FC manager and England manager Roy Hodgson. In the interview he described a meeting with Brendan Rodgers to discuss his future and received the frank message that, as things currently stood, his future lay in being transferred to another club. Downing’s view of this meeting was;

“I don’t know if it was a gee-up or what. Rodgers certainly tests players. It was good, I appreciate straightness, most players do. I wasn’t playing, he was bringing in new players in my position and there was no point in beating around the bush.”

The clarity of message certainly seems to have worked as Downing’s form has improved and he has played in 11 of the 12 games since the meeting. Contrast this with his feelings about his dealings with Hodgson;

“I played in the friendly in Norway and Roy said I did well but, to be honest, I came away from the Euros really disappointed, thinking “I don’t think he’s going to pick me again – because he’s not even told me to warm up in games.” I felt a bit like a spare body. I’ve basically come away thinking, “I’m not really sure if he likes me or not”.”

Whatever your views on Stewart Downing’s ability as a footballer the message from him is clear, he performs better in his role when he has a clear picture of what is expected of him and exactly where he stands in the thoughts of his manager. Leave doubt in his mind and insecurity sets in and his performance dips. In this he is no different to the vast majority of people.

It is surprising how often we get feedback from the people we coach/deliver Leadership programmes to who have no real understanding of what their line managers think of them and their performance. They find they are frequently told what they are doing wrong, but are rarely given specific feedback on what they do well or what they need to do differently to achieve their goals.

How often do you sit down with your people and give them feedback on their performance? Do you focus on the negative aspects or the positives of their behaviour or performance? How specific are you when you give feedback?

If you don’t set clear expectations and standards with clearly identified goals,giving regular feedback on progress, how can you expect people to perform to their potential?

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