Leading with Clarity

In a previous blog, I wrote about the iceberg principle, and how that can play out when leaders are coaching employees up and when they must coach them out.

Whenever a leader has a personnel issue, the most important factor in effective coaching is ensuring that there is clarity.  That means clarity in the way a leader communicates, clarity in the expectations a leader provides to the employee, and clarity for timeframes with which an employee should meet those expectations.

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In my experience, this is often one of the most overlooked factors in coaching. When there isn’t clarity, even the best employees are unsure of what their expectations are, what success looks like, and how they can improve on the value that they provide an organization.

Too often, when I talk to leaders and employees working through the coaching process, they’re just not on the same page.   At SEI, that’s unacceptable.  The ability to coach and lead a team with clarity is a non-negotiable for SEI leaders.  We’ve designed intentional systems and processes that include regular touch points for leaders to help to ensure they are communicating with employees.

Here are three areas in which effective leaders must lead with clarity:

1. Clear Talk

Too often, leaders are willing to talk openly, honestly and bluntly about an employee’s performance with their peers, but they’re not willing to do the same with the employee they have an issues with.

When leaders bring a personnel issue to me, I first ask them “have you told [insert name] what you’ve told me?”  If I receive a response like “kind of.”  Then, I’ll dig deeper and ask them to repeat to me exactly what they said to the employee.

Leaders must let employees know where they stand, and they must be clear, it’s an obligation for a leader and a coach.  That doesn’t give them license to be rude about it, but they must be clear about it.  Anything less than clarity in the way they communicate is unfair to the employee.

2. Clear Expectations

There are times when performance issues are a result of a leader’s ineffectiveness in setting clear expectations.  When this happens, an employee simply doesn’t know precisely what’s expected of them.  That isn’t fair to them when a leader is measuring an employee’s performance on their ability to meet his or her expectations.  Let’s be clear, when that happens, that’s on the leader, not on the employee.

At SEI, we use our SR5 Performance Measurement System to ensure both employees and leaders are on the same page.  With it we can ensure that expectations are written out and are being measured regularly.  It takes the guess work out of performance reviews and leads to great conversations.

3. Clear Timeframes

Just as important as it is to ensure that clear expectations are laid out, so too is it important to communicate clear timeframes for those expectations.  What good are clear expectations if a leader and an employee are not on the same page with timeframes.  At SEI, we measure most of our expectations monthly using our Scorecards and ROIs, or quarterly using our 5/15s.

At SEI, we cultivate a culture where employees get to work hard, have fun and get great results.  We do that by surrounding ourselves with the right people, and then taking the guesswork and ambiguity out of performance reviews.  We train our leaders, and provide the systems and processes necessary for them to communicate clearly and regularly and to set clear expectations with clear timeframes.

If you’re looking for a career where you can work hard, have fun and get great results, check out SEI’s opportunities here!