Be Clear, Improve Performance

Is it possible that clearly stating your expectations is enough to improve performance?

I believe it is. A public sector group I’ve been working with has recently been impacted by new legislation. The law now requires them to measure and report the quality of their work in ways they’ve never done before. Like in many organizations, the employees in this agency have been “doing it the same way” year after year. The employees believe they do good work; and by 1990 standards, they probably do. However, 2013 brings the opportunity to establish new expectations.

Legislation is forcing reform of this type in public agencies across the country, including sweeping personnel reforms in Arizona, enacted this year.  New standards are forcing long-time workers to re-examine what they do and how they do it.

The result: employees who thought they were “highly effective” are realizing they are just “effective” in the new world. In many cases, employees who have perceived themselves as “highly effective,” and now know what it really means, are stepping it up. They are modifying their approach and improving their results to meet the new expectations that have been set. Because most public employees want to be “highly effective” they won’t settle for anything less.

It’s a lesson for all of us. When you clearly set performance expectations for employees and define what “greatness” looks like, employees will work to meet or exceed those expectations. When you allow past performance to define your performance expectations, performance will stay the same year after year.

In the public sector we can’t afford to maintain performance at levels that were acceptable in the past. Now is the time to begin clarifying what “great” looks like. Start by asking questions like:

  • What is your organization capable of?
  • What is your vision for the highest level outcomes your organization can achieve?
  • How do you measure the ultimate end result of your organization’s work?
  • How can employees best support your vision?

When you state performance expectations in the most specific terms, employees will find a way to reach them.

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt