Setting Employee Expectations

Setting Employee ExpectationsCreative Commons: Flickr - Jurgen Appelo

The expectations you set as a boss or owner is ongoing. Most describe expectations to the employee quite well during the interview process and the subsequent follow-up can be hit and miss.

As a leader, start by asking yourself:

  1. What expectations are you placing on your team members?
  2. Are they high enough?
  3. Are they too high?
  4. Do they offer an appropriate level of challenge?
  5. Should you add a stretch goal?

In order for an employee to achieve goals, they must know what they are and that they are achievable. Adding stretch goals is great for most employees provided they understand that these are given to challenge them. If the stretch goals are part of their basic job performance review/rating and are not credited as exceeding expectations, this should be clearly explained to the employee.  

Additionally, research has shown that people have a greater chance of achieving their goals when they believe they are capable. As a leader, communicating to your employee that you have confidence in their abilities and are there to guide them can set them up for success. Expect the best from your employees and communicate this. When you expect the worst, well, we know what can happen.

Here are some ways you can demonstrate to your employees that you expect their best and know they can achieve it.

  • Challenge them. Remember those stretch goals? This is where it comes in. Give them assignments or projects that will stretch their abilities and then leave them to it. Offer up advice and guidance, but don’t micromanage them. Letting them achieve their goal their way shows that you believe the are capable of completing the task.
  • Praise them. If your employee does something well, let them know. “You’re doing a good job” isn’t as effective as “You did a great job managing that project. The way you coordinated the team was key in the project being delivered on time.” Being specific about their strengths is fundamental in their development.
  • Credit them. If your employee deserves the praise, make sure that he or she is identified. That moment of accolade will boost the employee and he or she is going to work hard to achieve that goal.

Wanting the best from your team isn’t enough. Expect the best out of them and make sure you communicate this clearly.