Set expectations for team performance to maximize potential

A good leader should set clear expectations that are SMART.

Set expectations for team performance to maximize potential

Setting clear expectations for your team members is critical in helping them understand what they need to achieve in their duties. Sometimes the process starts even before they join your team, as the recruitment process is an important first step to set expectations.

Good leadership requires setting clear expectations that are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely). This is the first step in ensuring your financial advisors are aware of their responsibilities and how they can exceed expectations.

As leadership consultant Tom Green explained in an MDRT Global Services Webcast, “The factor that most affects your team’s ability to perform, execute and meet their goals is failure to address poor performance, and the biggest factor that impacts poor performance is the leader.”

Correlation between results and action

For starters, it’s helpful to outline two main areas where you would like your team members to focus: results and action. Results are a clear and measurable indicator of each individual’s output, sales figures, calls and meetings and so on, while action is how they go about obtaining results. In most cases, these two elements go hand in hand, but as a leader, you should practice some flexibility when the situation calls for it.

Besides performance at work in general, you might also want to express your expectations that affect your team daily, such as workload, resources and priorities, especially for new hires or when there are changes to a client’s servicing needs. According to Green, vague expectations produce vague results. The people on your team will more likely do what you expect when you specifically tell them what they are supposed to do.

Be open to conversations

Another important element of setting performance expectations with your team is effective communication. Besides communicating measurable outcomes clearly, establishing a two-way feedback channel is also vital for clarity and openness. This way, your team will always know their concerns will be heard. These conversations should happen throughout the year, with regular check-ins with everyone on the team.

This is also a good time to review whether your expectations are clear and actionable. Green suggested framing the conversation around the team members' self-assessment. For team members who do not meet expectations, discuss with them what could be improved or what kind of support or tools they need to achieve success.

Setting and managing performance expectations is more than just communicating performance benchmarks. It is also a good tool to help your team progress in their roles, move up the career ladder and achieve their biggest goals. As a leader, you have a responsibility to ensure your team can operate to the best of their abilities.

Tom Green shared this advice during the MDRT Global Services Webcast “Bringing out the best in others: Coaching to mobilize others.”