Many years ago I sat in a leadership training meeting and heard a quote that would change the way I lead.

“You can expect what you inspect.” What does that mean, exactly? I didn’t hear much of the rest of the lecture as my mind focused on this important truism of leadership. I spent the next several years completely revamping my style of leadership and learning the value of setting high expectations and then following through.

One of the things that I was constantly guilty of was giving directions to my team with the full expectation that it would be executed as we discussed, but then never following up as I moved on to the next great idea. Whether accidentally or intentionally, we are all guilty of doing this.

When the leader of an organization or team or group gives a directive or the group collectively has determined a course of action and assignments have been made, that goal or assignment can only be achieved with monitoring and follow-up. In other words: inspection!

Whether you run a big business, a team, a group or are working on a small project, if you want to be successful, you must inspect what you expect.

No one likes that boss that constantly hovers. Employees will become less productive and more antagonistic if you are always looking over their shoulder. Most bosses are Type A personalities (this is certainly true for me) which means they are ambitious, competitive and controlling. It goes with the territory.

So what can you do to keep yourself in check, let your employees do their thing and still keep tabs on what’s going on? Here are 4 things you can do that might help.

Delegate

You won’t get much done if you just do it for your team. The most important part of the inspection process is to actually have something to inspect! You have to let go and delegate tasks to get anything accomplished.

If you are going to be effective at delegating, make sure that your team know what is expected of them and that the goal is clearly defined. Make sure each member of the team (even if its only a team of one) is clear on what their role is going to be. The more you can share with them your vision of what success will look like, the greater the chance that they will feel comfortable with the task.

Once you’ve clearly defined things and the team understands where they fit, then get out of the way and let them go!

Have Regular Check-ins

As previously mentioned, no one likes it when someone is constantly looking over their shoulder but it IS important to get periodic updates on where things stand and measure the progress that has been made. It is frustrating for everyone when you get to the end of a project and one party feels like they nailed it and everyone else wonders how they missed the mark so completely. You can check in with your team in a couple of ways:

  • Meet with them one on one
  • Meet together as a team
  • Have a performance review
  • Regular submitted reports

If these (and of course there are many others) are done correctly, you’ll be able to quickly identify issues and give feedback. Check-ins should be quick, to the point and timely. Be careful…they can also waste a lot of time if not done right.

My preference is just an informal aside with either the team or an individual depending on the task and situation. Keeping things informal fosters trust and shows that you are interested in them and what they are doing.

Have An Open Door

Your team members need to know that they can come to you at anytime. If you are accessible, these check-ins can often just be employees asking you questions and you providing your feedback. If your team feels like you are approachable, they will involve you in the process and solicit your advice and counsel. If you do it right, you can provide general steering inputs and they will do the rest!

Nothing fosters loyalty more than jumping in the trenches with your staff. You’re busy…I get it but spending this valuable time working side by side with them will help you understand them and help them get to know you. I have countless experiences with this and can tell you it really works. Just a little time invested in this way will pay big, big dividends.

Sometimes, you can’t be physically present but that doesn’t mean you can’t find out what is going on. So much exists in the way of technology to help us to connect with others in meaningful ways. Take advantage of the many platforms available: email, social media, CRM’s and texts just to name a few. Choose the ones that fit best with your personal style and is easiest to implement.

Use KPI’s

KIP’s (Key Performance Indicators) are simply metrics that you establish to establish whether or not you are moving the needle on a project. They can represent anything that you’d like to track but it’s important to incorporate KPI’s into your inspection process.

KPI’s give you specific information that will tell you whether something is working or that it might need to be revised or revamped. Some examples of KPI’s:

  • Revenue
  • Length of time it takes to complete the project or maybe phases within the project
  • Number of reviews, both positive and negative
  • Retention rates
  • Number of units produced (if applicable)

Conclusion

There is so much more to being a great leader than just giving orders and directives. Leaders who don’t involve themselves with often find that things aren’t getting done or happening as they expected.

You have to constantly be checking in…to communicate with your team…if you want to achieve your desired outcome. People need to know that you are involved in the process. Don’t get stuck behind your closed office door. Be available. Be engaged. Motivate your team.

Do you expect what you inspect? If not, its never to late to start.

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