Volume 60: Clear Expectations

A pretty common problem that I hear about from the industry is that corporate offices have one very strong set of principles and culture that they want pushed out, but it doesn’t make it to the facility level.

There are obviously tons of reasons this might be the case: Facility leadership that isn’t aligned with corporate, unclear instructions, lack of resources. (I promise we’ll dive head-first into this topic at some point in the future.)

As we pick our series on the Hierarchy of Needs in the industry back up, this issue of culture is once again a central piece, as the next two sections of the pyramid revolve around it.


Hierarchy of Needs

As common as complaints about financial stress or unsafe work environments are, the needs and grievances we talk about for the rest of the way tend to be far more impactful for an employee’s mental and emotional state, which can have a large impact on how long, and how well, they perform for your company.

Clear Expectations

When my team does follow ups with candidates that we’ve placed in the industry, one of the questions we always ask is, “Do you understand how your performance will be evaluated?”

“Ummm… I’m not sure.”

“No, but we’ll talk about it at my next review.”

“Well, I think so, but I guess we’ll see.”

Unfortunately, we get the same types of answers from some people that have been at their jobs for years and years, too. Maybe their reviews have been based on inconsistent criteria, or management has just not adequately communicated what is needed.

This is a problem. Employees need Clear Expectations to do their job at the level you hired them to do it.

So, how can we rectify this problem and fulfill this need?

Before Hire:

It starts in the interview process, and knowing what you’re looking for in a position.

If you’re replacing an ex-employee, are you looking to just replace that person with the same type of employee, or are you looking to adjust and get better in a certain area?

If it’s a new position, why did you create this new role? What do you expect this person to achieve? It’s okay if these expectations aren’t totally set in stone, as the first person in a new role is always kind of a guinea pig. But, if they are a little more fluid, there needs to be discussion on that topic, and a plan to make those expectations more concrete as you move forward. The new person needs to understand what the company hopes to achieve from the role, and how he or she is expected to do it.

And that segues well to the second part of the Before Hire stage: Open and Honest Communication. Candidates that are interviewing need to know what is expected of them when they come in to a new role.

Is their first focus waste? Down time? Machine Speed? Quality?

Is this person going to be expected to work 80 hours per week, including every weekend?

A new employee is never going to perform to your expectations if they don’t know what those expectations are.

Immediately After Hire:

You’ve found the right person. Both sides have agreed what the position should look like, and what the new person will have to do with the role when they get started.

From here, the key is consistency.

I constantly hear that people had the goalposts moved on them once they got started in their new role. They were told one thing during the interview process, and then orientation gave them a very different set of rules and goals. And then the actual job was a third set of realities that didn’t line up with what was expressed at all throughout the interview process.

The result of this is generally pretty simple: they don’t stay long. Can you blame them?

Be open and honest, and consistent, throughout the interview process and after hire.

Longer-Term Employees:

You’ve brought on the right person, you’ve been consistent with expectations throughout, now you’ve got an employee that has been with you for some time.

The company is going to change over the years. The facility is going to change over the years. Expectations are going to change over the years. The employee is going to change (and maybe grow) over the years.

These changes are the reality of the world we live in. So, how do you deal with changing expectations?

As with all things to this point: be open and honest with your employees. If the company is changing directions, and it’s going to impact their jobs, let them know. If the facility is being asked to do new things, share that with your team. If an individual’s role is being changed, or expectations being raised, let them know what the new rules are as soon as you know them.

Unclear Expectations lead to sub-par results almost every time.


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