Employees aren’t psychic. As the manager, it’s your responsibility to clearly define each person’s goals and objectives.

Share story

I once had a boss tell me, “But you didn’t achieve my No. 1 priority for what I wanted you to accomplish.” The problem? He never told me about this item.

During the time I had worked for him, I had provided a weekly update (hard copy and electronic) on all my key projects and activities, but my boss had failed to share this additional goal.

As a manager, this is one of the fastest ways to lose respect from your employees: Fail to clearly define your expectations and priorities.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only employee to whom this occurred. What this manager didn’t seem to understand is that his employees weren’t psychic. It’s the manager’s responsibility to ensure his or her team achieves their objectives — and those objectives can’t be achieved if they aren’t defined or communicated.

How do you make sure the team you’re managing will be successful? Create a Goals & Objectives (G&O) document for each employee. This process will also help ensure you’ve allocated your resources appropriately, so you can get everything necessary done on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis. Here’s how.

Create a G&O template. You’ll use the same template for each employee, so keep it simple and easy-to-use. Include categories, such as: Project/Task, Description, Timing, Goal, Stretch Goal, and Progress.

Make a G&O document for each employee. Work with each employee to clearly define his or her key projects and tasks, sorted by priority and timing. You don’t need to have a crystal ball and look two years out, but you should look at least one quarter into the future, preferably two quarters (six months).

Analyze your resource allocation. Take a step back from what you’ve just done and look at each project to ensure you have enough people assigned to accomplish the project by the goal date.

Obtain feedback from each employee. Meet individually with each person on your team to solicit their feedback and encourage candid discussion. Is the workload appropriate (not too little, enough to be challenging, not enough to cause burnout)? Is anything missing? Strive to get everything out into the open about how each employee is feeling about his or her goals and objectives for each quarter.

Finalize the documents, distribute and schedule review meetings. Provide each employee with their Goals & Objectives document. Let each person know they will be the “owner” of their document and are responsible for providing you with regularly scheduled progress updates. Then, agree on how often you’ll meet and get these scheduled on each employee’s calendar.

Becoming a successful people manager is about more than just defining the vision and strategy for your group. It’s about defining the strategic plan and then working with each employee to set goals and objectives that are directionally correct (not perfect).

The real work comes with the gray area in between the vision and the day-to-day operations — where you work with each employee to understand how things are going, what’s working and what’s not, what needs to be changed and why. It’s about being agile enough to course correct when you see things aren’t going in the right direction. It’s also how you’ll earn respect from your team.

Lisa Quast is a certified executive coach, and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at lquast@careerwomaninc.com.