What if…

  • Instead of gossip, you could have teams supporting each other when something goes wrong?
  • Instead of changing priorities on a whim, your team is set up to achieve short- and long-term goals?
  • Instead of frustrating meetings, you have meaningful discussions leading to plans you can actually follow-through on and achieve?
  • Instead of stagnating, you could achieve clarity and create massive action that yields results?

All of these are within your reach! 

I founded Facilitator on Fire out of a burning desire to help teams and their leaders get clarity at work and easily hold each other accountable, resulting in higher-performing, more supportive and happier teams. Teams that take  intentional action and succeed! That’s what happens when you set clear expectations.

I promised I would teach you my simple technique so you can begin setting clear expectations immediately. Because setting expectations is the first step to communicating for accountability.

Luckily, setting clear expectations starts with a simple 3-step process.

Step 1

I already mentioned this step in the first article in this 3-part series, which is to slow down and notice you are confused or missing information.

I know that might sound too simple, but to be honest, our negative feelings and habitual reactions are a gigantic obstacle. These feelings stop us from observing what is really going on.

Just think for a minute about the effect frustration has on you. When a colleague isn’t giving you enough information, or you feel like he is being difficult, what happens? Your temper flares just a little bit and you lose focus, if only for a moment, on anything other than your frustration. This is an incredibly normal human reaction, but it gets in the way of our ability to notice and ask for clarification. So the key to Step 1, or noticing, often involves taking a breath and asking yourself if you have a gap because you lack something important.

Step 2

Ask for three essential pieces of information:

  1. The goal or the task. Determine the specific goal or task that must be achieved or completed. If you can’t name a goal or task, you can’t take any action. Thoughts, beliefs and philosophies are important, but unless you act, you will not make progress.
  2. Who. Find out who is responsible for the goal or task. Don’t assume you know. Assumptions lead to confusion.
  3. When. Decide when the goal or task is due. Knowing a timeline is critical to all of the pieces that lead to creating your own massive action for business success. These elements include allocating resources, organizing a plan, gathering a workforce, and delivering your product or service.

Here’s a great observation from a woman named Melinda (not her real name), who participated in one of my workshops. She said knowing what questions to ask feels like she has permission to ask them. And, she said, knowing that she is supposed to ask these questions means her supervisors, “Won’t mistake her questions for challenges.” Whoa…think about the truth of that for a moment!

Step 3

Share the information about goals or tasks, who and when, with your colleagues.

Why? Because we are all human, none of us can take massive action on something we don’t know. If you circle back to Step 1, which is noticing when information is missing, you have the ability, and maybe even the responsibility, to report it to others.

People aren’t wired to be secretive and frustrate one another. Yet, even everyday, normal people cause communication struggles if the group dynamics reinforce it. Over time, teams and their companies create patterns of behavior that make it very difficult, if not impossible to communicate clearly and directly with one another. It also becomes increasingly difficult to hold colleagues accountable to goals, deadlines, and teams.

If and when the structure of your office group or project makes it a struggle to share, don’t let that stop you from sharing anyway. I know this is hard – I used to work in “silos,” and many of my clients admit to it as well. Notice the silence between silos and create a way to bridge it.

A lot of teams I work with don’t believe it’s realistic (or even possible!) to take these 3 Steps.

Not too long ago, I worked with a team that was scrambling to make a new plan after all of their short- and long-term goals and mandates had been unexpectedly changed. The team members were feeling anxious, lost, and even a little angry. I took them through my process to create action, setting new expectations and goals. Afterwards, their leader, Tom (not his real name), had this to say: “[Our] members feel more confident about where we’re going and how we’ll get there.”

In the final article in this series, I’ll show you what kind of massive action you can take – and impressive results you can get – when you feel that kind of confidence!

Kay Coughlin is CEO and Chief Facilitator of Facilitator on Fire. Kay founded the company on the belief that teams and their leaders deserve to take massive action to become higher-performing, more supportive and happier at work. She is well-known for business and leadership coaching as well as team alignment workshops.

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