Aug
26

Turn on the Lights | Showing your team what winning looks like.

by  Kristy Smith  |  Career Development

Turn on the LightsI am constantly amazed by the number of companies who feel it’s to their advantage to NOT have WRITTEN job descriptions or key initiatives for employees. These type companies usually, and with little hesitation, make some proclamation about how they don’t “DO” job descriptions because “everyone pitches in” or because they don’t want their employees to view their role as a checklist or risk hearing “that’s not my job.” Quite honestly, when speaking to an executive with this sort of mentality, no matter how profound the thing they said right before or right after is, it doesn’t matter; I’m let down. I can literally feel the air in my balloon begin to seep out and deflate right then and there.

In employee roles, I have been on the receiving end of no job description. In management roles, I have before been advised against giving direct reports key initiatives. As I have grown in experience and confidence, I too can say with little hesitation, I would not accept a job from a company who didn’t clearly define job roles and expectations and I certainly would not lead a team without offering them. Why? Because I need to know what winning looks like to my company and my team needs to know what winning looks like to me. I want to know where I stand, what to feel proud of, what to improve on and I want to offer that same transparency to my staff. Otherwise, it’s like the company has taken us all out bowling and shut off the lights. And no, I’m not referring to the fun cosmic style; we’re talking lights out, pitch dark, someone forgot to pay the electric bill.

Without clarity and without painting the picture of what winning looks like, you can never truly measure performance. It’s a total disservice to your employees and an overall health risk to your company. Why? Because celebrating victories and dealing with defeat end up looking the same. Things either got done or didn’t but determining the WHO WHAT WHY WHEN HOW gets lost in the fog. When victories get lost in the fog and the “job well done” goes unrecognized, expect morale to drop. When defeats gets lost in the fog and failure points can’t be identified, expect them to continue.

Job Descriptions, Job Responsibilities, Key Performance Initiatives, Key Result Areas. There are many different names. Their context and amount of detail may vary but their importance never will. Not so long as companies want to be healthy and they rely on their people to keep them there.

Does your company define roles & responsibilities? If so, at what point? At the time of hire or developed as you go? If not, what time today are you starting?

About The Author

Articles By kristy-smith
Full Bio Coming Soon

What People Are Saying

Leigh Steere  |  26 Aug 2013  |  Reply

Amen, Kristy. If you’re responsible for getting a group to a destination, you’ve got to name the destination, provide enough details to get there, and share any parameters (like budget for the trip, arrival date, acceptable modes of transportation, etc.). If you just say, “We’re taking a trip in the continental U.S.” and send people on their way, folks will go off in a variety of directions and spend random amounts of time and money getting “there.”

Establishing clear goals and expectations seems like a no-brainer. It’s amazing to me how many managers fail to do this.

Lisa Shelley  |  27 Aug 2013  |  Reply

Great post Kristy, I think leaders often lose sight of the real purpose behind clear expectations and role definition… it’s really about providing the alignment and linkage for each employee to the overall purpose of the business. How do I contribute to the overall objective my business is trying to achieve? This clarity is essential to empower your employees, not to mention inspire them!

Terry Pringle  |  27 Aug 2013  |  Reply

You are right, painting pictures for employees is key to having them engaged and taking responsibility. Also, since we live in a business world of constant change, painting a picture for employees is critical to getting their buy in to changes in their workplace. So, employers had better get skilled at writing things down, describing the future, as well as talking face to face.

Jodelle De Jesus  |  27 Aug 2013  |  Reply

It’s common sense to give each person a direction for their work, especially if you’re in a management position. I have a low opinion of organizations that refuse to give clear job descriptions or that don’t clarify their expectations to their employees.

I’ve held a position where my supervisors didn’t have a clear vision for me, and in the end, after pouring my heart and soul and succeeding in many areas but failing to achieve unspoken expectations, I was let go because they wanted to take the job to a “new direction”. It was really frustrating as an employee for my superiors to not have a clear goal in mind for me, and even worse after I was let go for it. I try to look at the experience as a learning one, but despite all the lessons and the valuable experience I gained, I could have been elsewhere forwarding my career instead of dancing around not knowing what my day-to-day tasks were.

Kristy Smith  |  04 Sep 2013  |  Reply

Thanks for all the great comments! I’ve been on vacation, officially “unplugged”, so it was a nice surprise to return to your feedback!

This is a topic that never ceases to amaze me, hence the article! In a time of such rapid communication, you’d think, well, that we’d communicate better. Despite the advancement of technology and knowledge as a whole, I think we are actually regressing in personal communication. Sure we can receive email from across the globe in 2.5 seconds and Skype face-to-face like it ain’t no thing, but because of that, it’s like we’re forgetting to apply the glue that holds it all together. We get so caught up in all the “things”, it’s easy to forget or be reminded to remember, ” Did I execute that well? Was I clear in my direction, expectation, delivery? Am I clear on what’s expected of me? Did I teach someone something today? Did I learn something from someone else? Am I set up for success? Have I set my team up for success?”

Recently, a CEO told me their company doesn’t “DO” the whole job description thing because such processes interupt the “creative process”. Mind you this wasn’t really a ‘creative company’. I consider my self pretty creative and know alot of super, talented creative folks. If anything kills the buzz of creativity, in my opinion, it’s ambiguity sucking the energy from the ‘white space’ where those cool, creative, out of the box moments are allowed to breathe. When a foundation had been laid early on and people of all types understand where they lie and the borders that surround them, that’s where creativity begin and be sustainted!

Kristy Smith  |  04 Sep 2013  |  Reply

Thanks for all the great comments! I’ve been on vacation, officially “unplugged”, so it was a nice surprise to return to your feedback!

This is a topic that never ceases to amaze me, hence the article! In a time of such rapid communication, you’d think, well, that we’d communicate better. Despite the advancement of technology and knowledge as a whole, I think we are actually regressing in personal communication. Sure we can receive email from across the globe in 2.5 seconds and Skype face-to-face like it ain’t no thing, but because of that, it’s like we’re forgetting to apply the glue that holds it all together. We get so caught up in all the “things”, it’s easy to forget or be reminded to remember, ” Did I execute that well? Was I clear in my direction, expectation, delivery? Am I clear on what’s expected of me? Did I teach someone something today? Did I learn something from someone else? Am I set up for success? Have I set my team up for success?”

Recently, a CEO told me their company doesn’t “DO” the whole job description thing because such processes interupt the “creative process”. Mind you this wasn’t really a ‘creative company’. I consider my self pretty creative and know alot of super, talented creative folks. If anything kills the buzz of creativity, in my opinion, it’s ambiguity sucking the energy from the ‘white space’ where those cool, creative, out of the box moments are allowed to breathe. When a foundation had been laid early on and people of all types understand where they lie and the borders that surround them, that’s where creativity begins and can be sustainted!

Join The Conversation