guiding your team expectations

What to do when the objective is unclear

Back Pocket Coach Strategy 12: What expectations do you have of me?

“I’ll never do that again!”

In the post-mortem of “what went wrong,” you discover that no one was on the same page from the get-go regarding the objective of the project. It’s a big aha moment for the team, with quizzical looks and much head scratching, implying, “How could that have happened?!”

The funny thing is, it happens more than you might think, and for a variety of reasons. One prevalent reason is that the leader, and perhaps some other team members “assume” that everything is abundantly clear and it never even occurs to them to validate that assumption.

Another big reason is that team members are afraid to ask for clarification because they are concerned that they will sound stupid, out of the loop, or simply unknowledgeable. I have coached many leaders and teams in aerospace over the years and observed that the fear of sounding stupid is alive and well with really smart people.

The fact is, if you are unclear about the objective, chances are pretty good that you’re not the only one. There are many different ways in which an unclear objective shows up in our lives. As such, Back Pocket Coach has more than five strategies that can help guide you out of the weeds and into greater clarity.

what to do when the objective is unclear

Here’s one you could try. Strategy 12: “What expectations do you have of me?” By asking this simple question, you are demonstrating your authentic interest in being part of the solution or success of whatever it is you are involved in.

Whether we realize it or not, we all bring different expectations to the table. Instead of assuming you are both on the same page regarding, for example, who’s going to do what by when, clarify! By asking this simple question, you are implicitly conveying your commitment and interest in being aligned with what needs to be done.

Fortunately, all of these strategies / remedies are quite simple to use. And if you use any one of them, it just may leave your colleagues with a newfound appreciation for your commitment to clarity -- and results.

For more strategies on this and other situations, visit or