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Expectations - Driving Performance

How do you drive performance? There are many levers that determine whether businesses and teams reach their potential or not, but we’ll focus on just one today. Consider these concepts related to setting expectations:

· Measurement drives performance

· What’s rewarded is repeated

Measurement, and in particular the setting of targets and measurement against them, is supposed to result in hitting the targets. Interim targets met lead to bigger targets being met, and the company writes a success story. In theory.

In practice, the process of setting company targets ranges from a thorough projection based on historical performance and known future factors – and the equivalent of a monkey throwing a dart at a picture on the wall. Overshoot in setting the target and the team motivation drags from the beginning. When the team doesn’t believe the number, however virtuous the number might be, team members won’t go full out in pursuit of hitting it. Wimp out on the number, and it does nothing to energize the team to stretch beyond its standard performance.

Which is your real expectation? Do you overstretch, knowing you’ll be happy if you hit 85% of the target? Do you think your team is aware of your real expectation of 85%? How do you think it impacts their commitment to the goal?

Now let’s look at another dimension of expectation. What behavior do you overlook without correcting or retraining? Are your behavioral standards really your standards? Are your stated company values truly core and living in your business, or are they only aspirational? Your team is observing you - what you choose to call out, what you reward, and what you overlook or ignore. You are demonstrating your REAL expectations by your daily leadership behavior, no matter the numbers on the scorecard or the words on the company website.


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