“Is your purpose clear and your expectations understood? If not, why are you still leading?”

“Well, what did you expect?” People operate and perform based on their own world view. In absence of your clear expectations, they create their own.

If I’ve heard it once I’ve heard it a thousand times, “I’m not sure what’s expected or I assumed my leader wanted.” Great leaders never assume and never launch a day, much less a new initiative, until they know that everyone knows and understands the goals and expectations.

Poor performance, team members quitting, constant conflict and lack of energy and engagement for the mission reads like a checklist of any leaders worst headache.

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, I have found one common denominator, unclear or mismatched expectations. Your purpose and expectations for yourself and for your team, must be clear and without question. They must be more than fancy plaques, framed mission and vision statements and a list of goals on a wall chart in some board room.

However you communicate your purpose and performance expectations, the following fundamental questions need clarity in the mind of your team:

1. Who are we?
2. Why do we exist?
3. What do we do?
4. Why do we do it?
5. How do we measure success?

Don’t you or your team start any day without knowing the answers to those questions. Here are seven steps for improving everyone’s performance expectations:

1. Are the goals and expectations clear in your mind? Otherwise, how do you explain your confusion or hesitation to your team?

2. Expectations should always be about filling the “gaps” between present reality and the goal. Does your team know where the gaps are? Are they passionate about filling them? If not, why are they still on the team?

3. Does everyone understand the “why” for what they do, not just the what and how? Few people are passionate about just knowing what to do and how to do it. They must see the greater purpose and their personal connection to the outcome.

4. Meet and discuss, but only after you complete steps one through three. If you don’t answer questions one through three, your meetings are redundant at best, or worse, pointless and a waste of everyone’s time.

5. Once your team has clarity on the above fundamental questions make the performance expectations an agreement, not your personal edict or command.

6. Write the performance agreement, not as a legal document or condition of employment, but a goal both you and your team agree with and will passionately work together to achieve.

7. Celebrate small wins along the way. Don’t wait to throw a big party at the end. If you see diminishing efforts and the energy level dropping find something to celebrate.

Once your team knows the answer to “Well, what did you expect?” And, is assured of your emotional and practical support, you can expect higher energy, more engagement on a daily basis and more frequent success. I guarantee it!