“Expectation is the root of all heartache.” – William Shakespeare

Expectation is also the root of all disappointment.

I have never seen “Clairvoyant” on any job description. There are cases where team members seem to be able to read the mind of the leader, but these are the exception. Many leaders I have worked with are convinced that they are communicating clearly with their teams, but the team has no idea what they want. Leaders can easily exasperate their teams, and teams can frustrate their leader.

One of the easiest ways to improve communication is to clarify expectations around decision-making.

Here are 5 basic levels of decision-making that you need to communicate with your team:

  1. A decision that only you can make.
  2. A decision that a team member can make, but only after consulting you.
  3. A decision that a team member can make on their own, but they must inform you what they have decided.
  4. A decision that a team member can make and they don’t need to tell you about it.
  5. A decision that the team makes together.

You will have people on your team whose motto is “Better to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission”, and you will have people on your team who never want to decide on anything.  Both of these need to be managed.

Your function as a leader is to enable your team to do their job, but it is problematic when your team makes decisions without a broader perspective, and that you are accountable for. The balancing act is managing those who are too eager to make decisions, and those who won’t.

You might be hesitant to get too picky about rules. This is not a heavy-handed laying down of the law. This is just clear communication and defining boundaries. Whatever is not clear will create confusion and frustration.

Expectation is the root of all disappointment.

Article written on 10 March 2021
Author | Doug Johnson | Journey Tools Consulting