top of page
a blog by Chris Barrow

Creating & Adding to a Team: The Art of Expectations & Boundaries - a guest post by Mark Topley

If there’s one topic that's as complex as it is crucial to team performance, it’s setting the right expectations. Whether you're a seasoned leader or just stepping into a managerial role, you'll find that the success of your team hinges on several key elements. From setting clear expectations and boundaries to ensuring you've got the right people on your proverbial bus, these elements can make or break your team's performance.

Start right - assume nothing.

Dr Henry Cloud once said, "You get what you expect or allow." How true that is.

Take the example of a dental manager who shared her experience on a forum recently. She had a new recruit who seemed to be coasting—uninterested in learning, unhelpful, and resistant to feedback. The manager tried to address the issue, but the trainee was unresponsive and even confrontational. Eventually, the manager had to let her go.

So, what went wrong?

The issue here is twofold: unclear expectations and a lack of boundaries. The manager assumed the new recruit knew what was expected of her, but never explicitly set those expectations. The result? A mismatch of expectations that led to conflict.

On or Off the Bus?

Jim Collins, in his book "Good to Great," talks about getting the right people on the bus and in the right seats. But let's be honest, it's not just about the bus; it's about everyone pedalling in the same direction. The leader's role is to steer, but the power comes from the team. So what do you do when someone isn't pulling their weight?

The usual approach is to procrastinate, hoping the problem will resolve itself. When it doesn't, you end up in 'the showdown'—a confrontation that often ends in disaster. The key is to set clear expectations from the get-go and address issues as they arise, not in one big, explosive meeting.

Three Foundations for Hiring Right

The 'You Join Us' Principle

Legendary American Football Coach Lou Holtz had a simple mantra for new recruits: "You join us; we don't join you." This sets the stage for a cohesive team from day one, ensuring that new hires adapt to the existing culture rather than disrupting it. The principle fosters unity and shared values, making it clear that the culture won't bend to individual wills.

The Power of Humility

The New Zealand All Blacks, despite their global dominance in rugby, practice humility through a ritual called "sweeping the sheds," where everyone cleans their dressing rooms post-match. This act serves as a counterbalance to unchecked ego, reinforcing that no one is above the team. Humility isn't a weakness; it's a strength that keeps teams grounded and focused on shared objectives.

Make Confrontation the Norm.

Leaders should foster a culture where safe confrontation is expected. This isn't about inviting discord but about creating an environment for constructive feedback. Leaders must be willing to confront team members, not out of malice but from a place of genuine care for their growth and the team's success. Avoiding confrontation can be detrimental, stifling individual growth and team development.

These three foundations are crucial for any leader aiming to build a successful, harmonious team. They set the right expectations, promote a culture of humility, and encourage constructive confrontation, all of which are essential for long-term success.

Some questions to ponder…

1. How clear are your expectations and boundaries with your team?

2. Do you have a systematic approach for getting people on or off the bus?

3. Are you applying the four foundations for hiring right in your recruitment process?

Final Thoughts and Your Next Step.

So there we have it, the essentials of creating and adding to a team. It's a complex process, but one that's absolutely crucial for any leader aiming to build a successful, harmonious work environment. If you've found value in today's post and are keen to take your leadership skills to the next level, I'd highly recommend joining our Great Boss Bootcamp.

This 11 week online course is designed to equip you with the tools, strategies, and insights you need to become not just a good boss, but a great one. From setting clear expectations and boundaries to mastering the art of recruitment and retention, the Bootcamp covers it all. Don't miss this opportunity to invest in your leadership journey.

The Bootcamp opens for registration on September 18th and closes on October 2nd. Click here for details.

Photo by Luis Benito on Unsplash

355 views0 comments


bottom of page