Learn how to set clear expectations

Establishing Clear Expectations

Learn how to set clear expectations

This post is first in a weekly series called “Being an Effective Manager”.

As a manager, setting clear expectations is one of the most impactful things you’ll do. Yet, many employees see evaluations as a meaningless waste of time. Why?

Without straightforward direction, employees often struggle to figure out what expectations they should be meeting. Your goal is to be direct – tell your employees exactly what you’re evaluating them on. Do not let anything be a surprise when review time rolls around. And don’t skip over anything at review time.

In many organizations, employees receive an evaluation after the first 90 days of employment, then every year thereafter. The initial evaluation is an important time for you to re-examine expectations and adjust as necessary. Thereafter, evaluations should become a compass for each employee, directing them in their duties and responsibilities.

During an evaluation, you should be able to identify what progress was made based on your original expectations – and what challenges were faced. You may think this sounds like common sense – but ask yourself – are you really following through with these suggestions?

Switch roles for a minute. Put yourself in your employee’s shoes. If you were in his position, what would you do to make the evaluation experience more effective?

Consider allowing or encouraging self-evaluations for comparison, and be sure to honestly acknowledge your employee’s perspective – even if it’s not in agreement with your own. Take this opportunity to learn if your evaluation – and your employee’s self-evaluation – are in alignment. Your employees should view evaluations as a valuable tool – and so should you!

As you develop clear expectations, follow these key tips:

  • Create a framework of expectations that is strongly aligned with your organization’s goals and objectives.
  • Show the employee how their work is linked with these goals – if they see how their role has a tangible impact in achieving these goals, they’re more likely to work towards helping accomplish them.
  • Ask questions and allow the employee ample time to respond – don’t interrupt, ignore or gloss over their responses.
  • Allow open discussion so they can ask you questions and voice their own perspective.
  • Be very specific as you establish expectations, but don’t become so caught up in setting expectations that they become unattainable.
  • Make sure that both you and the employee are in agreement and that the employee is committed to working on meeting these expectations.

Remember that establishing clear expectations isn’t a one-time event – it’s an ongoing process. Setting expectations begins when the employee is hired with a job description that outlines the duties, tasks, and other responsibilities associated with the position.

As time moves on, expectations may change, and this is why it’s critical to communicate effectively with your employees so they are up to date. Let employees know when expectations evolve so there aren’t any surprises during an evaluation.

Give your employees progress on their performance so they can make adjustments where needed. This means you must monitor goals and expectations regularly. You cannot expect employees to be held accountable if expectations aren’t clear and updated.

Be sure to check out next week’s blog for the next post in the Being an Effective Manager series!