Set the Stage for Success

06 Jan 2016
Posted by Shira Ronen

Setting the stage for success means having an intentional conversation with your boss or direct report to set expectations together about what it means to work together successfully.

For example, you want to be on the same page as your team when it comes to: understanding priorities and goals, how to communicate with each other (what is an acceptable response time to an email? how often do we have meetings?), how to give/receive feedback, etc.

The goal is to create mutual expectations which ‘set the table’ upfront so the ‘meal’ goes smoothly!

If you have direct reports you might encounter one of these scenarios:

1. Someone new has joined your team.
Your goal is to let them know that you want your new partnership to be productive and you are available to help get them up to speed so they can start contributing to the team. Set up a one-on-one meeting and try saying this:
“I am here to help you be as successful as possible and I would like to discuss expectations and preferences upfront so we can set the stage for a productive working relationship. The more open/honest we are with each other, the more successful we will be. Let’s discuss some specific expectations and communications preferences… What do you expect from me? …For me to be most helpful, I’d like to share my expectations from you.”

2. You want to follow up with your direct reports post year-end reviews (or onboard new direct reports).
Begin a one-on-one meeting by sharing:
“I would like you to be as successful as you can be. What do you view as your priorities for this year?”
Assuming you agree with their answer, repeat what was said in their own words so they feel heard. Fine-tune by rephrasing and adding in anything you feel they’ve missed. Then ask What can I do to help you achieve your goals?”

If you have a new boss, taking initiative to set the stage gives a great impression of what they can expect from you. It’s important to understand your new boss’ point of view on these two things:

1. Communication. Ask straight away:
“How often would you like to receive updates? What is the best way to keep in touch? Would you prefer email or should I stop by your office? Would you prefer scheduling a regular call/meeting?” (especially with remote managers)
These questions let your boss know that you respect his/her time and will be efficient with it.

2. Priorities. Presumably, you already have an understanding of what success means to you in your current role. But, are you on the same page as your superior? Find out by asking:
“How would you define our success at the end of the year?”

I’d love to hear how setting the stage works for you. Feel free to email me to share your experience.


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