Setting Clear Expectations: A Guide for Managers

Employee expectations are a critical part of the employee-manager relationship. They represent a shared understanding of what is expected from employees regarding performance, values, policies, and behaviors. Managers play a major role in ensuring that employees understand those expectations and know how to work toward reaching company goals. Let’s take a look at the importance of setting expectations and how managers can better communicate them to their team members. 

What are Employee Expectations?

Learning how to manage expectations in the workplace is important, but first, everyone needs to be on the same page about what exactly is meant by “employee expectations.” It refers to the expectations that a business or leader has for its individual employees. Examples of these expectations would be behavior, performance, work tasks, and outcomes. These expectations can also include the way people work and interact with one another in the workplace. These expectations can be formally defined in an employee handbook or discussed during team meetings or performance reviews. 

Tips for Setting Clear Expectations

Managers are responsible for setting and maintaining employee expectations. This includes making sure employees understand their roles and responsibilities as well as company policies they need to follow. Here are a few ways in which managers can set clear expectations from the start. 

1. Set Expectations Early

Managers need to set expectations with employees starting on the first day of the job. This should be incorporated into the onboarding process with a discussion centered specifically around workplace culture, behavior expectations, and job responsibilities. Managers should also include a detailed and accurate job description that includes skills and responsibilities that the role will actually entail. 

2. Set Clear Objectives

Managers need to set clearly defined and measurable objectives. Setting quarterly objectives along with writing actionable key results will help the employee reach those goals. Review the objectives every quarter and look and what did and didn’t work and make adjustments as necessary. 

3. Hold Employees Accountable

Managers need to set realistic goals and expectations but they also need to ensure employees are held accountable for their actions. Whether its making sure they arrive on time, turn in projects on time, or reach company milestones, each employee needs to know they are accountable for delivering the desired results. 

4. Give Meaningful Feedback

Employees need to know what they are and are not doing well. That’s why managers need to schedule frequent one-on-one meetings with employees where they can provide meaningful feedback. The more specific and personalized the feedback, the more powerful it will be for the employee. 


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