Clarity of expectations and Jesus’ mentoring style

Jesus sends out the Twelve
Jesus sends out the Twelve

“Come and see” (John 1:39) was the invitation Jesus had made to John and Andrew.  That was the beginning of their gradual commitment into discipleship.  Each of the 12 apostles would be carefully chosen to be with him to be sent into a mission.  Jesus carefully mentored each of them.  He modeled the type of leader they were going to become and instructed them into the mission they were going to perform.

How did Jesus form his disciples?  Certainly we could agree that he clarified expectations.  He did this by example and by instruction.  Even before they were going to be sent into a preliminary mission, he would be very specific in terms of how they were to behave:

Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.  These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no bag, no money in your belts.  Wear sandals but not an extra shirt.  Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town…  (Mark 6:7-10)

One of the first responsibilities of a leader is to clarify the expectations for followers.  One of the greatest frustrations for a direct report is the lack of clarity in expectations.  People suffer from the ambiguity regarding their role and responsibilities.  During my first years as a pastor, this was something that my best employees asked of me.  They wanted clarity of expectations.  Eventually, Catholic Leadership Institute taught me a three step process: 1) Clarify the purpose of the role of the subordinate,  2) Define the Key Responsibility Areas and 3)Establish SMART goals for those areas.

1.  A Role Purpose Statement

The first element in clarifying expectations is to understand what the mission of one’s role is.  Every role has to have a mission and a contribution either towards someone inside or outside the organization.  Every individual has the right to find his or her job meaningful.  Everyone should perform a job with a certain amount of pride and satisfaction.  It is the responsibility of the leader to help the individual understand the unique contribution that he or she is making in the organization or through the organization.

2.  Key Responsibility Areas

Every employee or volunteer should also have clarity in regards to the ongoing functions of his or her role.  Here we are first answering the question of WHAT has to be done and then WHY it has to be done.  Hence, a receptionist’s KRA could be frased in the following way:  Greet, inform and facilitate the parish membership to create an environment where parishioners experience service, compassion and Christ’s love in action.

3.  SMART Goals

Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Trackable Goals are humanly motivational for an individual.  Patrick Lencioni calls immesurability one of the signs of a miserable job, the lack of knowledge regarding the progress one is making in terms of his or her own performance.  Not in vain, the disciples returned excited to tell the Jesus about the success of their preliminary mission.  We owe it to our direct reports to mentor them by giving them clear expectations and a way to measure their success by providing clear objectives to achieve.

Of course, mentoring is much more than just providing clear expectations.  It requires accompaniment and coaching.  However, that will be another chapter.  Suffice it to say that making disciples begins by providing clear expectations.

Discussion Questions:

  1.  How would I explain the Role Purpose of my most important direct report?
  2. What are the KRAs of this role?  How have I clarified these expectations with my direct report?
  3. Share some typical SMART goals that you may have assigned to your direct reports.
  4. Have I experienced uncertainty in terms of my role assignment?  How did it feel?
  5. How can we keep better track of the performance of direct reports?



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