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Are you positive you are doing the basics?
August 02, 2016

Clear Expectations

If you have direct reports – this article is for you …

And if you have direct reports – where would you place their overall engagement on a scale from one to ten (where one is the minimum and ten is the maximum)?

Would you give them a four, a six, or an eight perhaps?

If you honestly answered this question, and you didn't give them a ten – then my friend – you will be well advised to keep reading ...

So – what exactly does engagement mean?

Employee engagement is NOT about happiness. You may have happy but unproductive employees.

Employee engagement is NOT about satisfaction. You may have satisfied but unproductive employees.

Employee engagement simply means people working above and beyond of what is required – employees who go the extra mile in a consistent basis.

This is called discretionary effort.

Companies with engaged employees significantly outperform companies without engaged employees in several metrics: productivity, profitability, and shareholder value – just to name a few.

So – how do you create employees who are consistently engaged?

Well … this is a BIG question … and so is the answer.

But for starters – let’s begin with the basics …

First and foremost:

Do your employees know – exactly – what is expected of them?

A staggering number of middle-level managers don’t have a crystal-clear picture of exactly what is expected of them.

The primary causes of low performance are insufficient feedback, no performance standards, and lack of clear individual goals.


Do you know if you are giving enough feedback to your employees?

If you are not sure – just go ahead and ask them – plain and simply.

But you must be positive you are giving them enough feedback. There is no way around this.


What about performance standards?

Are your employees crystal-clear about them?

Again – if you are not positive – go ahead and ask them.

And third

Do all of your direct reports have individual crystal-clear goals?

Let me tell you a little story about my work:

Most managers assure me that they in fact know how to write SMART goals.

But when I ask them to write a SMART goal and read it back to me – more often than not – when they read it to me, they read a goal that is NOT SMART.

Either they don’t write a subject – as in who is responsible for what.

Or they don’t make it specific – as in everybody who reads the goal must understand exactly the same thing.

Or they don’t make it time-bound – with a specific due date.


So – let me ask you again:

Do all of your direct reports have individual crystal-clear goals?

Here is an exercise that your team will find very beneficial:

Have a face-to-face meeting with each one of your direct reports, together go over every single goal, and see if each one of them really meets the SMART criteria.

You want them to know exactly what is expected of them. No more – no less.

These meetings won’t take you very long – and you will come away with a clarity that will pay your team big dividends down the road – short term and long term as well.

How to build engagement is much more than just creating clarity – but clarity is fundamental.


IF you want your direct reports to be engaged – you must start with the basics.

Role clarity is part of the basics.

Questions? Feedback?
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See you next month!
Joseluis Romero - Publisher
August 2, 2016. Copyright: All rights reserved
I publish "Leader Newsletter" on the first Tuesday of every month
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