Sunday, November 17, 2013

What is Critical to Success? ... Define Expectations ...

"Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity".  - George Patton

I had the occasion to meet Coach Bob Ford of UAlbany, a legend in his own right. Coach Bob is retiring after 43 years as head coach of UAlbany football. We were invited to see the new stadium which is absolutely incredible and to meet Coach Ford as well as UAlbany Director of Athletics, Lee McElroy.

The event as part of the American Heart Association Red Tie Society, a group of men (yes – there is a woman’s group too) who work together to fight heart disease and do some fun things together as well.  The AHA arranged a tour, tickets to the UAlbany basketball home opener and a sit-down for our group of about 20 the Lee and Bob.

The discussion was most interesting as Coach Ford talked about motivating players to achieve, and Lee talked about leadership and how leadership can form successful programs even when the going get tough. These two are an incredible team for sure.  

But what particularly struck me was Coach Ford’s methodology to get players to give more and achieve.

He believes that you must establish expectations for all to achieve – and then push for a little more. If you expect 10, ask for 12. He sets expectations – his team expects to achieve them.

People like to achieve and please others and Coach Ford has been the benefactor of this for years. He will be missed as he is retiring from his post as head coach, but he will always be involved.

The importance of expectations …

Without clear expectations, employees never perform to their full potential, succeed or are top contributors. Managers should heed this advice: Tell them what is expected; they will do the job. (

In my opinion, and the opinion of others, the reason many are disconnected, discontented, under productive or not engaged in their job may be found in the simple idea that they don't know what their job is. They are not using their strengths; they don't understand where they fit in the company. Unfortunately, managers often do not communicate; workers often do not push for answers. The result – disconnect, confusion and lack of direction and working in this situation is not engaging t all.

In this situation?

Two tips:

·         If your manager won't define expectations for you, take control - define them yourself - If you wait for your manager to define for you, it could be a long, unproductive time. Rather, take control, define what you believe your expectations are or should be, present to you manager and drive for your manager's concurrence. Not only will you be on the right playing field with a game plan, you will be viewed as one who cares.

The end game is better productivity, sales or other metric - So, once you define your expectations, develop a plan to achieve them, document your results, conduct your own personal employee evaluation -- and share with your manager.

·         Manage up - find out what your bosses’ boss expects, and build this into your plan - Never hurts for sure, and can help in the long run.

Unfortunately, some managers are just cowards and prefer not to manage or define expectations so they can remain in control, on top and be secure. If you can't break this, it is time to move on elsewhere. Know it sounds blunt - it is because it is true.

You can only win a game if you keep score and beat the other person or team. Measure every day. Win every day. Know your expectations – achieve them – and then bury them!

And thank you for reading this – Dan

And to the AHA, Coach Ford and Lee – thank you! Go Danes!

Dan Moran
President & Founder
Next-Act, Division of DVG, Inc.
Career Management & Transition Specialists
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