by Carol Nibley

“At a minimum, all leaders owe those they lead a clear understanding of what is expected of them and how they will be evaluated.”
– Ron McMillan, co-author of Crucial Conversations
Several years ago, I was approached by a frustrated manager whose personal assistant made frequent mistakes and often missed deadlines. He couldn’t understand why this hard-working, well-meaning employee missed the target so often. He asked me for suggestions to improve the situation, for he was close to the end of his patience despite his good nature and best efforts of the assistant.

As we spoke, it became apparent that the busy manager hadn’t clearly communicated expectations or prioritized work flow for the assistant.

What can an employer do to ensure employees are staying on task? How can a manager communicate performance deficiencies in a positive, motivating manner?

Frequently, employees perform below expectations because they don’t understand what the expectations are.  Other times, employees may forget or get lazy, especially when they think the extra effort is unnoticed or unappreciated.

I offer this simple suggestion to anyone who may expect subordinates to be mind readers: communicate often and in multiple ways. Whether a morning stand-up meeting or weekly progress review, communicate the big picture and then break down the component tasks that need to be accomplished along with clear timelines.

This approach suggests that a subordinate has the desire and requisite skills to be successful. Next month we discuss how to handle an employee who simply cannot or will not perform to expectations.


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