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Setting Advisory Expectations Untitled-27

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Morale is important to a functioning workplace, and employees knowing what’s expected of them on a daily basis is important for morale. Clearly communicating your expectations as a manager can help employees better understand your company’s goals and work toward them more effectively. Without those expectations outlined from the beginning, you run the risk of miscommunication and low employee engagement. But when everyone is on the same page, your company can run like a well-oiled machine. .

In their book ‘How Did That Happen?‘ Roger Connors and Tom Smith outline a way of making sure that expectations are clear. It involves three discussions that cover:

  • Communicating the expectation that you have of the person – This might sound simple, but have you ever noticed that what you think you have said is not what the other person thinks they have heard? Once you have shared your proposed expectations with your team you might want to get their input and feedback. This will ensure that there is mutual understanding and that you gain their commitment and support to ensure effective implementation.
  • Clarifying the boundaries – Ensure that the other person or the team is absolutely clear on the boundaries upfront. This will avoid people from being inhibited by boundaries that do not actually exist. It will also prevent them from overstepping boundaries that do exist, thereby causing problems of a different kind. This conversation can also prevent ‘scope creep’, an expansion of the task you are giving the person or team.
  • Establishing available support – This conversation clarifies the support that is available to those who you expect to deliver on your expectation. When people really understand what support, both tangible and intangible, they will probably feel more comfortable that they can overcome the obstacles that crop up along the way.

This process is an effective way to establish the ‘what’ of your expectation. You will obviously need to clarify the when expectation; i.e. being clear in terms of time. Never assume that peoples’ timescales will be the same as yours unless you make them clear to them.

It is worth noting that many serious employee relations problems including grievances, destructive conflict, and unfair dismissal claims which can be very costly for the organization are down to unclear expectations and standards.

Finally, if your expectations are high, most people will strive to achieve these expectations. While I am all for setting stretch targets that inspire and challenge people please remember that if you overstretch people, they may well burn out and you may well undermine their motivation, performance, and well-being.