One of the first and foremost responsibilities of successful managers is developing a vision of a better future for their teams. Extensive research on the Best Practices of High Performing Leaders by the University of Michigan found that the best leaders "get everyone on the same page and focused on the purpose of the organization." The Gallop organization's research on the practices of the 's greatest managers found that one crucial best practice was to "set expectations, and define the right outcomes."

So how can you as a manager define the right outcomes, set a vision and get everybody on the team on the same page? The 360-degree approach is one wise strategy. Find out where your boss and the senior management want the organization to go, then determine how your team can help them get there. Coordinate with your peers and find ways to partner. Solicit participation from your team members; their participation leads to their buy-in and better quality decisions.

Great managers are aware of the concept of "stakeholder symmetry." Stakeholder symmetry recognizes that an organization has multiple stakeholders (e.g. investors, customers, employees, suppliers and community). The organization and your team  should try to add value to each stakeholder and maintain a reasonable balance between their competing interests.­

Once the right outcomes are defined, great managers then let each person find his own route toward the outcomes, within specified parameters. Great managers don't micro-manage, but they do define steps to ensure quality, safety and compliance with corporate policies and applicable laws.

The final outcome for your team should include a vision or mission statement that helps inspire your team to strive for excellence. Following is the Mission Statement of the Print & Mail Services team at Portland General Electric:

Mission: Our mission is to be a "world-class" provider of printing and mailing products and services. We desire to be recognized as a premier service provider that is comparable to any operation of similar size anywhere in the country.

Our purpose is to provide timely, high-quality products and services at a cost equal to or lower than any other potential provider. We desire to achieve a consistently high level of customer satisfaction and to maintain a working environment that dignifies and motivates our staff.

Here is a final quote: "You can choose to be mediocre, or you can choose to strive for excellence; the choice is yours." Good luck as you and your team intentionally strive for excellence!

Wes Friesen is the Manager of Revenue Collection & Community Offices for Portland General Electric, a utility in Portland, Oregon, that serves over 820,000 customers. Wes teaches university classes and is a featured speaker at national conferences such as National Postal Forum, MailCom, IPMA and XPLOR. He manages the bill production and payment processing teams with the able assistance of supervisors Eric Houger, Barbara Byers, Gil Rodriguez and Elyssia Carlblom. Wes can be contacted via email at