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This article first appeared in the PB August 2005 issue of Pro Builder.

One of the main reasons relationships fail, whether they are professional or personal, is because of misalignment of expectations. The sales and marketing folks know this all too well and focus heavily on "establishing buyer expectations" in order to stem misunderstandings.

Problem — the X and Y Dilemma

As an employer, you might be expecting X performance from an employee who is delivering Y results. Y results may be acceptable, but obviously not nearly as good as X results. On the flip side, the employee who is working at the Y level may think it is X performance. The bottom line — you and the employee had different expectations and both of you are disappointed. These are not good things to have in common.

Solution — A Results-Based Success Profile and Interview Process

One way to alleviate the X and Y Dilemma is to clearly communicate and document what your employee will need to accomplish. The communication and documentation can be done through the creation of a success profile.

A success profile specifies what's needed to produce a successful outcome. More than a laundry list of duties and responsibilities, a success profile provides a clear definition of what is expected of an employee and in what time frame.

When establishing a success profile, it is important to remember the more specifically the performance points are defined, the better, as the success profile will become the performance target.

Take the success profile a step further and define what exceptional performance looks like. This could be more production, a shorter time frame or a combination of the two, etc. Carry the success profile into the interview process and look what happens. Rather than using subjectivity to determine if a candidate is qualified, measure his or her past accomplishments against what truly needs to be accomplished, as stated in your success profile.

One additional benefit of the success profile is its value in the performance review process, which you should be doing at least once a year. Success and opportunity for improvement are clearly defined when compared to the success profile. The comparison doesn't leave room for surprises and the review won't fall victim to subjectivity.

Caveat Emptor

Now that you are thinking about the success profile, here's a caveat. You may find there is no evidence to exclude a candidate from an interview, merely something to discuss in greater detail. Let's assume you finish an interview and see several disconnects between your success profile expectations and the candidate's past performance. Do you cut and run, or take the person on as a trainable employee? That's your call. However, as I've shared time and time again, "history is a predictor of present and future behavior!" It's logical that patterns of good or bad behavior can and will be repeated.

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