Charting a Clear Course


Last week I met with a friend who spoke about the stress in her past job. She had taken on a special position to create a new program for her employer – while it was a very exciting opportunity, it became very stressful. It was not so much the amount of work, nor even the challenge of setting up protocols and systems. However, the challenge was no clear parameters, no benchmarks and no clear sense of the definition of success. As a result of her management team not being able to clearly define their expectations, parameters and how the program would be evaluated (e.g., monetary gain, breaking even, or number of enrollees) she found the job very difficult. In fact she decided to resign rather than continuing without knowing if she was successful or not.

We all need to have clear expectations and boundaries – imagine being sent on a sea voyage with no map, no destination and no clear objectives – How would you know how much fuel you would require, meals, or how long you’d need to complete the voyage- even pirates like a treasure map!

To assist your department in creating success on a new initiative:

  • Offer clear expectations – remember the old adage of SMART goals – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time limited. This creates a map of how to arrive at the desired results.
  • It is easier to correct your bearings with a slight adjustment than to have to chart a brand new course once into a project. Having success measures allows benchmarks to be created that identify when modifications need to be made.
  • Ensure that you are available to assist with interim and final evaluations – although if your staff is aware of what you are seeking, they are more likely to be successful.
  • If necessary, you may need to delay the project until a beginning definition of success can be ascertained. Ask yourself what is needed to be achieved by this endeavor and then create the specifics that will assist you and your team to reach the final destination.

Helping your staff with clear parameters is like ensuring that you are giving a map to assist them to arrive at their destination preventing the risk that they get lost at sea. It will also assist them to feel inspired, productive and successful!


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