Many of my posts have been targeted at executives leading large organizations, but here is a post that any manager should find helpful. A “manager” is someone accountable for the results of others. Therefore, a manager has primary authority regarding who is on their team, deciding what tasks are assigned, and providing feedback to individual team members. These are the minimum authorities of any and every manager. Without these authorities a manager cannot effectively lead their team.

If you have read my blog, you know the four questions that every employee deserves to have answered. The first of the questions is: What’s my job? A manager should provide the answer to this question as their first and top priority. It is not enough to have a clear role description. The manager must validate a mutual understanding of the role, especially about his/her expectations of that role. The employee is only accountable for doing their best. It is the manager who is accountable for bringing clarity to the expectations of the role. Validation only occurs when a manager has seen evidence of a clear understanding of the expectations.

Another way to bring clarity to a job is to be disciplined and intentional in assigning any new non-routine task. Start with a statement of context, of why the task is necessary. Next state the purpose of the task as to what needs to be achieved. Then clarify expectations by stating the expected quantity and quality of the output. Finally, be specific about the limits on resources (money, supplies, personnel) that can be used to complete the task and specify the time constraints (i.e.: due date). These six ingredients will assure clarity between manager and employee for each new task.

Answering the question “What’s my job?” is fundamental to every successful manager; yet managers often fail to be clear about expectations.


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