Friday, April 5, 2013

Sharing your expectations through conversations for clarity and common commitment



A recent coaching client who has been in the role of CEO for just over 6 months wanted to explore with me some concerns she was having with one of the staff members who reported to her.  The CEO offered the following information about the staff member:
  • Appeared to ‘take for granted’ the CEOs availability and often just walked into her office and started talking
  • Invited the CEO to attend meetings with no background information
  •  At their regular catch-ups the person did not always complete agreed tasks
  • Monthly report had incomplete data, inaccurate data, poor structure and grammar
  • Her language was about ‘what they haven’t done…that is why I haven’t been able to….”
  • When ask to prepare information she gave verbal reports that lacked research or analysis about the subject matter
I asked the CEO how she felt about this and she said she was frustrated, resentful and somewhat angry that this person did not appear to value her time or the position she held.

When I explored with her what she meant by the position she held she said “Well I am the CEO, so I would expect that as a senior person who reports to the CEO she would have higher standards”.


We spent some time talking about standards - in ontology we use the term ‘speech acts’ which are actions imbedded in language. In this case we are dealing with Assessments, which are our opinions or judgments about the quality of something or someone. So when the CEO was talking about ‘standards’ she has an opinion that a senior person who reports to the CEO would have higher standards.


What is missing here is the need for both parties to agree on those higher standards. The action that the CEO took to address some of her concerns was to set out her expectations of her senior staff and in turn ask them to set theirs out of her. The following are what they came up with:   


CEO Expectations

  • Honesty – be honest with me, I will listen and we can work through the situation
  • Show up in a way that treats everyone with respect  
  • Be a Learner – if you don’t know say and we can learn together
  • Be just and fair
  • Don’t blame each other
  • That you will give me feedback on my behaviour and actions and I will do the same
  • Trust me to give you what I have to offer, be open to coming on a journey with me to develop your leadership and management skills
  • We build a strong internal community
  • Potential of each person is maximized - Our gifts are known and shared
  • Address issues with me and each other directly
  • Be given and taking up more responsibility in relation to your budget, program growth/change and quality of service
  • Ask for what you need clearly
  • Follow up if you can’t do something
  • Observe yourself
  • Remove the clutter
  • Let me know when you are not going to be here (sick, leave, etc)

Leadership Team’s Expectations of CEO

  • Encourage staff to think and act organisationally
  • Ensure regular team meetings and team building occurs
  • Improve professionally image of organisation
  • Clear and open lines of communication and a clear chain of command
  • Develop a team that operates through co-operation rather than competition
  • Develop a culture that doesn’t blame
  • Working together
  • Talk to work through things
  • Support and respect
  • Establish clear boundaries
  • Develop a culture where staff and volunteers are equally valued
  • Develop a sense of belonging and cohesiveness
  • Working in partnership
  • Developing our Business Strategy
  • Lead the organisation forward both internally and externally
  • Tendering for funding to ensure sustainability 
In summary setting clear standards are achieved through conversational intention. Conversations that focus on the following:  
  • Connection and intimacy
  • Shared understanding
  • Coordinating Action

 For a conversation,contact [email protected]

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