As a manager, setting clear expectations is one of the most important components of your job. Yet, many employees are left in the dark and wandering aimlessly through their daily routines. Without straightforward direction, employees often struggle to figure out what expectations they should be meeting. This lack of clear expectations is not only frustrating for employees, but it results in poor performance, a lack of engagement, and unfair dismissal claims that can be detrimental to the organization. It is the responsibility of the manager to help their direct reports achieve success by communicating clearly with them. Here we will outline a few steps to help managers set expectations with clarity.
Determine What Your Expectations Are
Before you can sit down and have a conversation with your employees, you need to have a conversation with yourself to come up with realistic goals and expectations for your team. For examples, you may expect employees to do the following:
- Report to work on time.
- Follow company dress code.
- Complete projects within the designated time frame.
- Treat colleagues and customers with respect.
- Follow up with clients within two days.
- Take initiative on starting new projects and offering ideas that will benefit the company.
Create a Framework for Your Expectations
Expectations can fall into various categories including personal performance expectations, team expectations, and behavioral expectations. Write down the exact expectations in a chart, outlining the expectations you have for each category. Provide each employee with both a hardcopy and a digital copy of this document for reference.
Discuss the Expectations With Employees
It’s not enough to simply hand a copy of your proposed expectations to each employee. You need to sit down and discuss these expectations with them in detail and invite their questions and feedback. This is a great opportunity to explain in further detail exactly what you expect of your team and clarify any questions or concerns they might have. At the conclusion of the meeting, it is important to have each employee agree to these expectations so there is no room for confusion. Formalize these expectations by requiring each employee to sign off on them. This gives you documentation to hold them accountable if they have fallen short of the agreement.
Communicate Your Expectations Regularly
Effective leaders communicate their expectations consistently in order to reinforce them. These expectations should be communicated routinely at team meetings, in performance reviews, and during coaching sessions. In addition to talking about their expectations, managers should “walk the walk” to show their employees what these expectations look like in practice. Managers should also meet with employees regularly and offer feedback and support to help them meet and exceed expectations.