Inspiring coaches help their teams by clearly and specifically defining the actions, timing, and results they expect from others and from themselves. For each member of your team, make certain you communicate the 3 W's-- What, Who, and When.

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We use this simple format with our coaching clients to help them drive millions of dollars in improvement. The power is in its simplicity. To ensure clear expectations when using the 3W form, identify only one "Who" per action. This will avoid "two-headed monsters" since a "We" is unowned and undone. This simple 3W form  is even more powerful when you carry it with you as a mental template to bring closure to daily conversations and interactions.

We each bring our own perceptions, experiences, and assumptions to every interaction, so the chance that we will be in sync after a discussion is quite low. Since human communication is much more art than science, clarifying the 3 W's after even short conversations helps identify perception gaps and ensure both parties are aligned on respective actions.

Although aligning on clear expectations can be tedious, if you take the necessary time to do it, you will end up spending less time dealing with performance problems and more time executing your plan. A broad and persuasive series of studies confirms that specificity of goals dramatically increases the likelihood of success.

For example, in one study, participants were asked to write a report on how they spent Christmas Eve, and then to write that report within two days after Christ- mas Eve. Half of the participants were required to specify when and where within those two days they intended to write the report. The other half was not required to give specifics. Among those who had to provide specifics, 71 percent handed the reports in on time. Only 32 percent of the second group did so.

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