10/06/2010 - 00:00

Clear understanding of expectations vital

10/06/2010 - 00:00


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Clear understanding of expectations vital

THE beauty of a systems approach to business is that everyone can be absolutely clear on what is expected of them. And this should start from the outset – when you first engage someone to fill a position in the business. Assume that each position in the business starts with a results statement – what are the outcomes required of this particular position? When you think about it, that’s a pretty logical starting point.

Then each of the tasks required to achieve those outcomes is listed. Once the total list is compiled, it’s a matter of detailing the process of each task – writing a system for each. Those systems will include the steps, the resources that will be required to carry out the task, and the standards by which each will be carried out – comprehensive, detailed, concise, clear instructions on how to achieve results.

The opposite of this is uncertainty, confusion and misunderstanding.

I was once privy to a situation where a person was invited into a business to take on a marketing function. However, he was not provided any guidelines, any procedures or any detailed expectations – other than sales would improve. On day one, the business owner very proudly showed the employee their desk, chair and computer – full stop. That was it. No previous files, no systems, no contact points, no details of what actions were expected to be carried out – nothing. Needless to say, there was total confusion from that day as to what was expected and how tasks would be performed and the relationship did not last.

If employees can be made clear of expectations and task management, they will be confident and even blossom, and become creative within the environment that has been set out.

I mention this in previous articles, but it is worth reiterating – this process is an integral part of the delegation process. If there is full understanding and absolute clarity involved in delegating tasks, the chances of that task being successfully undertaken increases immeasurably.

Clarity of understanding starts with the people within the business, but can have wider-ranging implications. If dealings with customers are conducted following the same principles, they too will know exactly what to expect in the way of service and/or product delivery.

Furthermore, the business will be aware of the customer’s expectations and that understanding will be the basis of a good business relationship.

The most unpleasant situations arise in business relationships because what the customer expected for a price and what the service provider believed was being offered, were different. There was no clarity of understanding from the outset – a recipe for business disaster. The result is that the business reputation becomes besmirched and what does any business have without its reputation?

I would go as far as to say that in any business transaction, the likelihood of a successful outcome is established during the very first stages of interaction with the client.

Various methods can be implemented (depending on the type of business and type transaction) to determine the precise expectations of the customer. These might range from ensuring that floor staff asks sufficient questions to a fully blown questionnaire or checklist to establish the needs of the customer. Arguably, this is the most important phase of the transaction, as almost everything that occurs in the relationship from that point, will be based on parameters set in the initial discussion.

If clarity of understanding was to be established in business as an underlying principle and put into practise, it will have positive effects on:

• staff being clear on what outcomes are expected from the position they hold;

• successful outcomes from delegated duties;

• improved morale within the business; and

• repeat business occurring as a result of customers knowing that their expectations will be delivered.




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