Learning & Development, Talent

Regularly Setting and Reinforcing Expectations

Managers generally assume their team members have a clear understanding of the expectations set for them; however, there is often a surprising gap between those expectations and employees’ understanding of them.

expectations
Source: Photon photo / shutterstock

Managers can’t assume they are always on the same page as employees. It’s essential they regularly set, review, and reinforce their expectations of their team members.

Importance of Aligned Expectations

A great deal of time, effort, and goodwill can be wasted when employees work toward goals different from those their managers believed they had set for them. This results in not only lost productivity but also lowered morale and damage to trust and confidence.

How Regular Checkpoints Help

Think of an employee as a ship heading to a destination on the other side of a body of water. At the beginning of the journey, the manager and the employee discuss the destination, and both believe they are on the same page. But over time, the recollection and understanding of that initial mutual understanding may shift—both in the mind of the employee and in the mind of the manager.

If the employee and the manager review their expectations only at the end of the trip, it will be too late to correct course. If, however, the employee and the manager meet regularly along the way to review and discuss expectations, the employee will have a better opportunity to adjust if he or she was getting off track.

Turning Theory into Practice

Employees and managers should meet regularly. These meetings are a great time to review expectations. This can be done both explicitly and implicitly.

Explicitly, it doesn’t hurt to review a job description, yearly or quarterly employee goals, a project charter, or any other document that records the mutually agreed expectations set for the employee. Implicitly, the employee can provide updates, and the manager can provide his or her perception of how the employee’s performance measures up to expectations.

It’s common for managers to assume they and their employees are on the same page concerning expectations. But this is often not the case. By regularly and consistently revisiting and, as necessary, updating explicit employee expectations, the team stands a much better chance of maximizing productivity and ensuring desired outcomes.