Communicating Expectations: Attracting Top-Performers

AA010130When interviewing for internal candidates, we often hear the same comment. “The other roles for which I am interviewing are selling me on the company and position, but you just keep talking about how difficult this position is.” We sell the company and the role, but we don’t start there, at least not anymore.

Setting proper expectations is the most critical piece of building a high-performance culture. Any company that is not working on improving its performance is soon to be left behind. Focusing on the message that is delivered to your internal candidates is the first step to identifying people that are willing to work hard. As we have refined our process, we have found that focusing on the difficulties that our industry can include and clearly communicating what we expect does more to “scare” away the wrong person than our best questions ever do to identify the right people.

All companies create job descriptions and responsibilities. Does your company consider the expectations that these documents set? Does the job description set expectations for the minimum performance or does it suggest exceptional performance? Once we looked at our job descriptions with this mindset we started to wonder; what other subtle expectations were we setting? We found a number of opportunities to raise the bar. Our interview process, annual reviews and even commission plans all contained elements that rewarded average performance. All of these programs have been changed to push and reward performance that is better than average. We made exceptional performance the “new” average.

Now, when we interview people, the candidates that remain interested are those that we know are capable of hard work and are motivated to be top-performers. We got better at communicating our expectations and the result has been that we found more people capable of being top-performers.

Mark Eldridge
Mark Eldridge is CEO of The Start Group. He can be reached at mark.eldridge (at) startgrp (dot) com.

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