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Tim Millett
Published by Tim Millett
08 October 2013

Companies spend a lot of time trying to understand why certain goals or expectations are not met within the organisation. There are individuals who fail to get their work done in a timely manner. There are managers overseeing departments that never seem to be capable of meeting a deadline or are always turning in late reports. There is also the project team which seems to spend more time trying to decide what needs to be done rather than actually producing results.

All of this time spent within the business is time that could be better spent advancing the success of the company. Resolving problems that could have been avoided is wasteful and counterproductive and can lead to a weak organisation that is always playing catch-up rather than being innovative or successful.

The Relay Race of Expectations

When looking at the organisation as a whole, it is clear that every person within its boundaries is a team member. The company itself can be seen as a big project with a set of goals, and individual employees each play a unique role from the Chief Executive position to the office assistant running general errands. It is almost like a relay race with each employee passing a baton to the next, and when one or more drops it, the quality of the entire organisation is compromised.

Unfortunately, there will always be those times when expectations are not met within a company. The important thing to remember is that such occurrences are normal, but they also need to be minimised. It doesn’t matter if it is a single employee, a project team, or the whole organisation that missed meeting objectives, the fact remains that identifying the source of the failure is critical to prevent further repetitions.

Before the problem can be resolved, it must be identified. It is not wise to charge in head first and “fix” the problem if you don’t know what caused it in the first place. Companies that can’t seem to break cycles of failure to meet goals or objectives are not addressing the real reason for the lack of effectiveness.

Reasonable Success

Keeping in mind the entire organisation is a team, the evaluation of the inability to meet expectations should focus on the team elements. Organisational quality relies on understanding the roles and responsibilities of the resources in play and establishing a means of measuring reasonable success.

Notice the word “reasonable” is used. The very first question that should be asked when a team or team member fails to achieve objectives is this: Have your expectations, both operational and behavioural, been clearly communicated by you and understood by the team? If not, then the first step is to formulate clear expectations and communicate them. Every leader is different, and therefore leadership styles differ enormously as well. Ensuring that there is no misunderstanding between yourself and your team can lead to a greater sense of security in the workplace.

If your expectations have been clearly communicated and problems still exist then you need to proceed to whether the expectations are reasonable and realistic? If they are not, then the second question is: How can the organisation revise the expectations while still promoting the advancement of the firm?

On the other hand, if the expectations are reasonable, then it is time to begin evaluating where the problem first started on the path to goal achievement. Teams are complex and involve a number of people and things that will determine success.

  • Are the right people assigned to the right positions within the organisation?
  • Are there are communication problems within a project team or between departments?
  • Is there conflict within the organisation between management and staff
  • Are organisational goals clearly identified and communicated?
  • Are there proper resources available for meeting the goals?
  • Is the organisational structure supportive of the goals?
  • Are problems that arise addressed in a reasonable amount of time and appropriately?
  • Have organisational leaders effective?
  • Are corporate values and mission clearly transmitted and accepted by team participants?
  • Do circumstances exist that are beyond the control of the organisation?
  • Is appropriate training provided?

Obviously, the reason for expectations failing to be met will drive the response. But notice that in most cases, the reason is directly tied to team performance and access to the right tools to achieve results. That is why human resource training and development is critical to organisational success.

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