How to Bring Clarity to Your Team

One of the most frustrating things a follower can experience is uncertainty about where they stand with their leader. Of course people want and need to know when they’re performing up to or above expectations. But I’ve also learned that most people want to know when they’re not performing up to par. And if they don’t want to know, they still need to know so that they can learn how to improve. When we’re vague about how our teammates are performing, well, that doesn’t do anybody any good. It leaves our teammates feeling unsafe and uncertain. It also leaves us ineffective as their leader.

How can you give clarity to your teammates? Here are some recommended actions:

  • Acknowledge and celebrate their wins. No matter how far we advance in our careers, we still like to know when we’ve done a good job.
  • Address the performance issues as they arise. Don’t expect performance challenges to go away on their own. Address them at their earliest point in a casual coaching conversation, when possible. The longer we ignore them, the bigger the issue when we finally address them.
  • Don’t snipe. Sniper leaders use their scope to specifically look for and point out the one thing “wrong” among 100 other “rights.” Of course we should always strive to continually improve, but acknowledge the rights and coach to the wrong instead of simply pointing it out.
  • Give specific examples. If you are praising a teammate for his ability to produce under pressure, share a few specific and recent instances when they have done so. If you’re coaching an employee on how to handle conflict with a teammate, share a specific instance when they mishandled conflict, and then discuss what they can do differently next time.

Make sure your people know where they stand with you. Clarity brings with it a confidence and a clear direction on how to move forward for the future.


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  • Earl Breon says:

    Uncertainty certainly is one of the more dangerous pitfalls in any aspect of life. Human nature is to fill in the gaps of what we don’t know and, quite often, we are terrible at it. We tend to fill those gaps with the worst case scenario which then, in our mind, becomes perceived reality. Once that happens it is extremely difficult to replace perceived reality with actual reality.

    The sad thing is uncertainty can be avoided, as you point out, by constant and effective communication. The more you know and share with your team the less room you leave for uncertainty to creep in.

    Great article, as always!