I recently returned from vacation. Being part of a startup, we have a small team of employees. I knew I didn’t want to be working a lot on my vacation, so I delegated out my responsibilities while I was gone. I gave things to many different employees and tried to spread the load out as much as possible. I fully expected to have issues and people missing assignments. But when I got back I saw that everything had been done. Every assignment or task was completed on time by the person it was assigned to. It was amazing. Every person stepped up and worked beyond their job description. I realized that it is okay to expect more from your team. They can and will rise to the occasion.
When I was a young manager, I struggled with delegation and setting expectations. I wanted to complete everything myself because I wanted to make sure it was done correctly. I didn’t trust that people could do things the same way I did. It was arrogant and foolish. It created a lot of extra work for me and delayed the development and progress of those I worked with. I have learned now that delegation and expectations go hand-in-hand. They also are great tools for development. By expecting more from your team, you are really developing them to be able to handle more. It gives them a taste of additional pressure. It gives them a taste of what it will be like at the next level of growth. By increasing the expectations you have with your team, you start to create your next group of leaders.
I spent three years working as an executive project manager for a Chief Operating Officer. This COO spent most of their days reading books (no kidding), traveling, or working from home. This person rarely spent time with his team. He sent me to do that. For a while this frustrated me. I felt underpaid, under-appreciated, and overworked. I felt like I was doing the COO’s job for them. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was getting the best training I could ask for. I was learning how to act like an executive without the title or position. I was learning how to influence others rather than dictate and manage. I was learning how to be a leader. When the COO finally moved on, I took over his role and found quick success. This would not have been the case if I hadn’t been expected to act like a COO for three years.
Expectations make a huge difference. They need to be spelled out specifically and managed accordingly. When handle correctly, setting tough expectations can help create new leaders. All in all, it’s okay to expect more from your team. It’s okay to expect the best from your team. Push your team to be better than they think they can be. It will teach them and help them grow. Start to expect more. It will pay off in the long run.