RCT Blog



Let’s be clear – I am NOT advocating micro management.  No one wants their manager looking over their shoulder, directing their every move.  I am simply stating the importance of 1) clearly communicating your expectations AND then 2) following up.  Spot check.  Verify.  Confirm that the performance you expect is indeed what is happening. 


I sometimes hear “I trust my team.  We’re all adults.  I assume that when I ask someone to do something, it gets done.”  Hmmmm. . .  Yes, you trust your team, and yes we’re all adults (at least chronologically), but assumptions get leaders in trouble.  This isn’t about trust.  How do you know it’s being done?  Where’s the accountability?  I can cite quite a few instances where not “inspecting what you expect” has had significant repercussions! 


You expect that your sales people are calling on their top accounts at least monthly.  You assume that it’s happening.  You don’t spot check; there’s no accountability.  Six months go by and a top account is in jeopardy.  The assigned sales person hasn’t been there, but the competition has!! 


You manage technical specialists in the field, and you assume that they are following the most updated processes to maximize your product.  Then a customer eventually complains – loudly - that your product doesn’t “work.”  It never has.  After some investigation you find out that the assigned specialist has been using the wrong calibration for months.  Months!!


Let’s face it.  Human nature says that if no one follows up with me, then it must not be that important, so why spend time on it?  And if no one “inspects what they expect” then I believe that what I am doing and how I am doing it is acceptable.


“Inspect what you expect” is not to be done in a spirit of “gotcha!” but in a spirit of right focus, quality and accountability.  So if you “inspect” and it’s not being done (or is being done incorrectly), then it’s an opportunity to reinforce expectations and/or correct wrong thinking/wrong processes.  If you “inspect” and find that everything is on target, then that is a perfect opportunity to provide positive feedback and express your appreciation for a job well done!


Louis Gerstner, retired CEO of IBM sums it all up:  “People do what you inspect, not what you expect.”

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