Have You Made Your Idiosyncrasies List for Your Staff Yet?

How often do you get frustrated with your staff? If you’re like most owners and CEOs, it’s quite frequently. And chances are, it’s quite frequently over the same issues.

In your mind, you have expectations about all kinds of issues—from how people should work, at what level of excellence they should work, how long they should work, how fast they should work, etc. But your staff members also have expectations (i.e. theirs). And that’s where the rub is.

In other words, most owners and CEOs have expectations about their staff and how they should work that they’ve never verbalized (or if they have, not to everyone). Note: If you’ve verbalized your expectations and a staff member chooses to not meet those expectations–well, that’s a very different conversation 🙂

But in this situation, what I usually recommend to my clients is that they write up an Idiosyncrasies List for their staff. In other words, I encourage them to write out—in black and white—what all their “unwritten” expectations are. Note: since we’re all different, every Idiosyncrasies list will be different.

I found this to be an effective tool back when I was leading a large church. Whenever I hired a new employee I’d hand them a sheet entitled, “Bruce’s Idiosyncrasies,” and then walk them through it (with illustrations). Why? Because I didn’t want them to have to waste the next 6-12 months trying to figure me out. Nor, did I want to spend a lot of time frustrated with them. Hence the list.

So, what kinds of things might you put on your Idiosyncrasies list? Here are a few questions and examples to get your brain started.

1. What are the little things that get under your skin? For example, in my case, excellence was and is a high value. So a staff member sending out an email or letter or direct mail piece with a spelling error or grammatical error was a big deal.

Another issue that used to bug me was when someone would finish a meeting in the conference room and then leave it a mess. To me, this was a values issue (the value of service). If someone didn’t clean up their junk and put the chairs back in place what they were communicating to everyone else was, “I’m more important than you. I don’t have time to clean up my own junk. So, before you can start your meeting, you need to pick up my stuff.” So cleaning up the conference room, putting the chairs back in place and making the room look presentable for the next person mattered to me.

Which is why both of those issues went on my list. But how about you? What are the issues that irritate you? What do your employees do that gets under your skin?

2. How fast do you expect people to respond to you (or others)? For example, do you expect someone to respond to your emails or texts within the hour, that day, within 24 hours or whenever? It doesn’t matter what your answer is, relative to the time. What matters is, what are your expectations? And are they clearly communicated?

3. What do you expect about timeliness? For example, some bosses always run late. Others are on time. And still others think that anything less than five minutes early is late. Some bosses are sticklers for showing up on time. Others don’t care about when someone arrives as long as they get their work done. Whatever your choice, put it on the list.

4. What do you expect in terms of hours? For example, some bosses are “8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.” kinds of bosses. Others expect everyone to work late. Some expect that weekends are available for work. Still others expect their staff to work 24/7. Again, the choice doesn’t matter. What matters is, “What are your expectations?”

5. What kind of information do you expect? And in what form do you prefer it? Do you prefer face-to-face communication? Or email? Or memos? Do you prefer one page summaries or detailed analysis? Do you like chit-chat or do you prefer that people bottom line the conversation?

These are not the only questions you should answer, but they should get your brain engaged and help you start creating your own Idiosyncrasies List. Every boss has Idiosyncrasies (meaning, ways they like things to be done). So, why make it hard on your staff?

Make the list. Hand it to your staff. Give them illustrations. Hold them accountable to the list. And you’ll find that you’re experiencing less and less conflict over the “little stuff” that’s currently driving you crazy!

To your accelerated success!