Work Effectively

Posted 3/2/2016

Understanding Expectations of the Job

Organizations expect their workers to work in ways that contribute to the business goals. Most workers want to be recognized for being excellent at doing their jobs. However, the ability to perform work effectively, efficiently, and safely varies from one person to the next. A personís ability to do work to the organizationsí expectations is affected by a variety of factors, including: 

  • the ability of supervisors, team leaders, and trainers to effectively communicate expectations
  • the person's ability to understand the expectations of the job
  • the quality and suitability of tools, equipment, and materials
  • the competence of the individual worker

One of the most important factors for exemplary performance is a personís ability to understand the expectations for doing the work:

  • what has to be done
  • how it has to be done
  • how well it has to be done

What has to be done must be communicated clearly. Questions include:

  • Who will do the work (discipline)?
  • What created the need (preconditions) to perform the task?
  • What conditions affect performing the task?
  • What materials are required?
  • What tools and equipment are to be used and not used?
  • Where is the task being done?
  • When must the task be done?

How it has to be done can vary depending on the organization and the situation. Sometimes, people have the freedom to decide how they want to go about doing the work. For critical tasks that can put PEMEO at risk, a very specific procedure needs to be followed. Key questions to ask include:

  • What actions are required to achieve the specific results?
  • Is there more than one way of performing the task?
  • Why would one method be better than others?
  • Is there a specific sequence and timing of actions to do this task?
  • Why is this step of the procedure done this way?
  • Is there a risk of people getting ill or injured?
  • Can tools, equipment, and materials get damaged?
  • How much waste is acceptable?
  • Can the environment be damaged?
  • Is there a need for communication and coordination?
  • Can the way the work is done affect costs?
  • Can the way the work is done affect customer satisfaction (internal and external customers)?

How well it has to be done defines the desired results of performance and can often be expressed in terms of time, timeliness, quantity, and quality. Standard of performance can apply to the task as a whole, major steps of a task, and specific steps.

Some key questions to ask about the quality of results include:

  • How well am I to do the task (desired results)?
  • How do I know I have done the task satisfactorily?
  • How do I know that I have done a major step satisfactorily?
  • How do I know I have done a specific step satisfactorily?

Communication before, during, and after a task may be essential to achieve the desired results and to encourage future performance. Communicating expectations and feedback about how and how well the task was performed can be motivating and encourage improvement. 

    Part of working effectively, is to
    plan ahead before, during and 
    after the work is complete to 
    ensure the work is performed 
    effectively, efficiently, and safely.
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There are surrounding issues for each of the questions posed above and some ways to approach work are better than others. To learn more about the structured thinking strategy for exceptional performance, refer to the book WorkThink. It uses an educational approach to explain how exemplary workers approach work to contribute to employee, job, and corporate performance. Exercises give you the opportunity to apply the thinking strategies to your work and work environment. The book is targeted to line workers, supervisors, and trainers.

Do you think people can be taught to use structured thinking strategies to work in ways that contribute to improved employee, job, and corporate performance? Are work-related thinking strategies what some people call common sense?

Gordon Shand is President of HDC Human Development Consultants Ltd. He has 35 years of experience designing and developing educational and training programs that have excellent practical value and contribute to the customerís business success.