Setting Clear Expectations Is Critical to Your Players’ Success

Managing your team is no easy feat. But one thing that makes a big difference is how well you set expectations and define what success looks like. 

Setting clear expectations for every member of your team is a key aspect of setting every member of your team up for success. When your players win, you win. That may seem self-evident, but this attitude is so often not the case in the workplace. We’ve all had managers who seemed like they wanted us to fail, or at least wouldn’t be direct about what we could do to succeed. In some organizations it borders on pathological. 

Since you don’t want to be that manager, begin by writing your expectations for each position down in a Role Scorecard. A Role Scorecard is a way to define what success looks like in any given role in your organization. It consists of a minimum of 4 things:

  • The Purpose of the Role
  • Job Accountabilities
  • Core Values
  • Metrics or Key Performance Indicators
The Purpose of the Role

The purpose of the role is exactly that. Why is this role necessary and how does it contribute to the success of the team? Seems simple, right? But in a world where about 70% of employees are NOT engaged at work, it is extremely uncommon. 

Let’s take a running back on an American football team. The purpose of the role is to contribute to the success of the team by advancing the ball downfield.

Keep it simple and straightforward. One sentence is enough. 

Job Accountabilities

Job Accountabilities are the yes/no’s for a position. They are things that must be done to succeed in the position. In the medical world it would not do to be 80% HIPAA compliant. Patient information must be protected at all times. One is either HIPAA compliant or one is not. This is an example of a yes/no Job Accountability. 

For our running back, some examples might be:

  • Be on time for practice
  • Attend all team practices and games
  • Review game film as assigned
  • Be dressed for practice and games
  • Attend team meetings 
  • Attend 1 on 1 meetings with Running Backs Coach

As the coach, you would list whatever is critical and important to the player’s success in that position on your team. 

Core Values

Core Values are the behavioral expectations for everyone on the team. It doesn’t matter if that person is the head coach or the waterboy. The integrity of these values and fidelity to them by everyone on the team sets the foundation of your culture. 

Single word values don’t cut it. The problem with “Respect” as a Core Value, which is one of those on the 49er’s website, is that it is too open to interpretation. “Respect” might mean 6 different things to 6 different people, so it has to be explained. By itself, it isn’t memorable and doesn’t mean much. 

Here’s the 49er’s explanation of “Respect”: 

“Everyone matters. Everyone contributes.

In a game of Xs and 0s, we embrace all people for who they are regardless of status, title or background. We celebrate diverse opinions and perspectives. We honor hard work and commitment. Every contribution makes us better.”

Another way you might choose to say this is how I did it with one of my Core Values, “Y’all means All”. You can still explain it, but it stands out a bit more than “Respect”, and is unique to me and my business. And once understood, it can be followed and all team members know what their expectations are. And it’s a wee bit more memorable than “Respect”.

And since we said the Core Values are the behavioral expectations for everyone on the team, every Role Scorecard is the same in this section, from the head coach to the tight end to the groundskeeper to the waterboy. 

(For more on Core Values…)

Metrics or Key Performance Indicators

Metrics or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are the 2-3 things that define success in the position that the player has control over. Too many things confuses the issue. And we cannot make someone responsible for an outcome they do not control.

For our running back they might be:

  • Yards per Carry
  • Fumbles per Game

To succeed in the position they must carry the ball forward a minimum number of yards on average. And they must fumble less than a maximum agreed upon number. If they don’t make the target yards per carry and/or they fumble the ball more than is acceptable, they won’t succeed in the position.

Note that touchdowns is not a metric for the running back on their Role Scorecard. This is because they are not in charge of play calling. They don’t have control over this metric. The coach ultimately does. If our running back is successful with the 2 KPIs as defined, then they will likely get opportunities to score. But they are not in control of the opportunities. So it would be unfair and potentially confusing to make them responsible for this result. 

Taken together, our running back’s Role Scorecard might look something like this. 

Functional Role: Running Back

Purpose of the role: To contribute to the success of the team by advancing the ball downfield.

Job Accountabilities
  • Be on time for practice
  • Attend all team practices and games
  • Review game film as assigned
  • Be dressed for practice and games
  • Attend team meetings 
  • Attend 1 on 1 meetings with Running Backs Coach
Core Values 
  • Y’all means All
  • Make the right call
  • Support one another
  • Strive for excellence
Metrics (KPIs)
  • Yards per Carry:    Green >4.3;     Yellow 3.8-4.3;    Red <3.8
  • Fumbles per Game: Green <0.25;     Yellow 0.25-0.35;    Red >0.35

The Role Scorecard is not fully comprehensive and doesn’t check all the boxes for a job description’s HR compliance, but it outlines what success looks like in the role on one page. 

What you are trying to do is paint a crystal clear picture of what success looks like in each role. This will help you select the right people and support them in their positions. It will help them know exactly what they should be prioritizing and working on in order to succeed in their role. And a team of successful players is far more likely to be successful, and even engaged. 

If you found this article useful, you are going to love my new book Nobody’s a Mind-Reader: the power of clarity for business leaders and entrepreneurs on Amazon. 

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