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Expectations, Accountability & Change-Coaching Notes


Expectations & Accountability 

The rise of the use of 360 reviews, emotional intelligence coaching and values based organizational cultures is likely not surprising to most executive coaches and leadership skills trainers. In our work we often encounter some common themes around communication and expectations that may come wrapped in a story that starts with lack of accountability in others.

Unspoken or unclear expectations are an all too common communication failure that derails managers at any level. The discord created when assumptions are made but not verified leads to fractured teamwork and haphazard collaboration. This derailment happens to managers that are new to the role and managers with a successful track record. It often occurs because a set of assumptions is in play that is not effectively vetted.

These assumptions generally are based on the idea that a core set of skills is already well developed or the manager would not be in the role. It also assumes that the success a manager may have had in a different organization or a different role in the same organization is going to be equally effective in the new role or organization. This can also be a factor in problematic management when a manager is required to adapt to a changing industry or technological landscape with the same set of skills that worked in the past.

Expectations and Change

  1. Ensure expectations are clear– It doesn’t matter how much experience someone has or how long they have been in a particular role. Take the time to clarify the goal and objectives.
  2. State, discuss, and agree–clearly define the standard and the measurements by which performance is assessed. Just stating the expectations isn’t enough and this is the most common error I encounter in my coaching practice when a manager is telling the stories about what frustrates them in others performance. People define things differently and we don’t know what that is until we have the discussion that unearths the difference.
  3. Evaluate-Many managers also believe themselves to be clear communicators, they are concise, precise and say what they think needs to be said. Their communication is generally one-way. They accept a nodding head, a ‘yes, okay’, or the employee repeating verbatim what they said, as an indication that the employee has the same understanding as they do.Too often, this isn’t an accurate assessment of understanding.
  4. Build A Bridge- changing expectations may lead to confusion and erratic performance. People trust what they understand. They understand what aligns with their previous experience. Start there, where their previous experience has them, then link the new with the old as a way to bridge understanding. Be patient.
  5. Change-When you are implementing or requiring change, signal first what the intention is, a clear rationale, and a measurable standard. Managers sometimes balk at the idea of providing a rationale for the expectations they require mistaking justification for rationale. You are not justifying expectations. You are providing the employee with a way to better understand what they are required to do with some guidance on how they are expected to do this.
  6. Check your Bias-we all have them. The difference between emotionally intelligent leaders and reactive leaders is that emotionally intelligent leaders accept that they do have specific biases and are able to recognize when those biases may be driving their decision making or affecting their performance. Putting your bias in its place is a key factor in developing leadership skills that others can trust. Not easy but it is doable.


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