When we were in school, it wasn’t enough to just show up. Sure, we may have received a Perfect Attendance Award and been the teacher’s favorite, but that wasn’t going to get us to pass! We had to do homework and take tests. And based on our performance completing measurable tasks, we got a grade. That grade determined our future. To help us stay on target, we got a report card each quarter letting us know where we stood. No surprises. Our teachers wanted us to pass. They wanted us to succeed. They made it clear that extra help was always available if we asked for it. Every effort was made to help us get top grades and pass with flying colors. Some of my best teachers even told us up front how our grades were determined! 70% on tests, 20% on quizzes, and 10% on homework. We knew where we stood. Our grade, good or bad, was on us. And we had no excuses.

Fast forward to being an adult in business and it seems we forgot how to clearly communicate expectations. All too often we assume. We assume the person knows how to do their job because we hired someone with “experience”. We assume they know the level of performance we expect at our company, even though we never spelled it out for them. We assume they know to ask for help if they need it, but our culture labels those who need help as weak.

It’s really not that difficult. Define what makes a person successful in their role. Tell them how their performance will be measured. Give them a goal to reach for. Let them know how they’re doing. And make it clear how they can get help if they need it. No surprises. Clear communication. A culture of learning.

Once we have that, bring it to the beginning of the recruiting cycle. Why the beginning? Did you ever buy a car?