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Management Skills 101: How setting expectations is critical to leadership - Experteer Magazine

Evaluating Performance Expectations

  • Does your team know what’s expected of them?  Let your team paraphrase what has been told to them. 
  • Have you told your team what they can expect from you?  They need to know how and when to reach out to you, and that you are accessible to them as a knowledgeable resource. 
  • Do employees know what is expected of each other? It’s important that everyone knows how their work affects their colleagues and how to work in tandem to achieve team/organizational goals.
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    Management Skills 101: How setting expectations is critical to leadership - Experteer Magazine

    Management Skills 101: How setting expectations is critical to leadership - Experteer Magazine




    Key Ideas

    Why setting expectations is critical

    One of the top reasons for unhappiness in the workplace is communication issues with one’s manager/supervisor.

    Managers tend to make incorrect assumptions that employees have all of the information needed about what needs to be done, without having to communicate it clearly to them. Yet, employees will have a different idea of what is required.


    It’s crucial for your team to know exactly what is expected of them.

    The unwritten rules about the level of quality expected in the work, and the depth of knowledge that needs to be displayed, are what defines a successful work project.

    What are the boundaries of an employee’s responsibilities? What are and what aren’t the roles of the job?


    Communication is one of the most critical components of organizational life, and it is far too important to leave to chance.

    What’s the preferred way of communicating, both formally and informally? What should be the frequency of communication? What are the protocols for communication at different levels – while reporting to the manager or even upper management?


    When working closely together with multiple people on multiple tasks, it’s important to keep track of your time and that of the others working with you.


    It’s the responsibility of the manager to make sure that the organizational principles, behaviors, values, and overall expectations are clarified.

    All employees bring their past experience and habits with them. If those experiences and habits differ from the organizational culture, non-clarification can lead to poor performance.

    Evaluating Performance Expectations

  • Does your team know what’s expected of them?  Let your team paraphrase what has been told to them. 
  • Have you told your team what they can expect from you?  They need to know how and when to reach out to you, and that you are accessible to them as a knowledgeable resource. 
  • Do employees know what is expected of each other? It’s important that everyone knows how their work affects their colleagues and how to work in tandem to achieve team/organizational goals.

    Communicate Early And Often

    An effective leader communicates early and often. 

    Don't assume that your team understands your expectations. Instead, proactively communicate your expectations. Empower them to m...

    Come To A Democratic Decision

    The right way to set expectations is to sit down with your employees and discuss everyone’s needs and expectations. Then come to a mutually agreed solution.

    Focus On The ‘What,’ Not The ‘How’

    An good approach for employees to best meet expectations is to focus on “what” your desired outcome or vision is. It allows employees to feel more invested in the process toward completion.

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    Setting employee expectations
    A recent study reveals that almost half of all U.S. employees are unsure of what's expected of them.

    Setting clear employee expectations can benefit your business. Management must co...

    Employer/Employee expectations

    Employee expectations to maintain:

    • Displaying a positive and respectful attitude
    • Working with honesty and integrity
    • Performing their work to a reasonable standard 

    Employees expectations;

    • Proper training, support and leadership from management and access to resources
    • Timely and accurate payment of wages
    • Safe working environments
    • Explanation of responsibilities, company policies and procedures
    • Regular feedback from supervisors or managers.
    Team expectations

    Team expectations refer to the behaviors that occur while working together on tasks. 

    • Respect and courtesy to everyone.
    • Be accountable for your work.
    • Be reasonably flexible about task assignments.
    • Be willing to lend a helping hand.
    • Ask for help when needed.
    • Work safely together.
    • Be open to constructive feedback.
    • Be self-motivated and reliable.
    • Share ideas for improvement.
    • Be cheerful, positive and encouraging to other team members.

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    One on one meetings

    ...are held between a team leader and team member

    They are conversations that usually last no longer than 10 to 30 minutes where they discuss what is going well and what needs t...

    A recommended agenda

    Most effective one on one meetings typically last about 30 minutes:

    • 10 minutes for the direct report from the employee;
    • 10 minutes for the manager’s remarks and messages, and;
    • 10 minutes for the employee and manager to draw a way forward.
    Objectives of effective 1:1 meetings
    • find out about the employee’s current emotional state.
    • track the status of the employee’s performance and how their goals are coming along.
    • learn if there are any obstacles in the way to the employee’s goals.
    • discuss specific issues – either the employee’s, the manager’s, or both.
    • get honest value-added feedback from the employee.
    • provide an opportunity for the manager to coach the employee.
    • share formal and informal information about the team and company as a whole.

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    Working Remotely

    There is ongoing turbulence in the workplace due to the uncertainties provided by the new virus, resulting in a whole lot of people working from home. Normally the work-from-home policies are esta...

    Common Challenges of Remote Work

    Even high-performing employees can face a decline in job performance and engagement when working remotely. This can be due to:

    • Lack of face-to-face supervision, which leads to a two-way communication gap and even mistrust.
    • There is a delay in the procurement of information as remote workers aren’t able to sense the atmosphere and real-time events at the workplace, leading to a lack of ‘mutual knowledge’.
    • A sense of isolation among remote workers, leading to a feeling of less belongingness within the organization.
    • Distractions at home due to unplanned work-from-home transition, with employees balancing childcare and many other responsibilities along with work.
    Improving Engagement And Productivity

    A few specific, research-backed steps that can be taken to improve the engagement and productivity of remote employees:

    • Establishing Structured Daily check-ins, by establishing a daily call or touchpoint.
    • Providing several different communication technology options, using virtual communication tools like Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams etc., and making use of video conferencing.
    • Establishing clear rules of engagement for communicating with the coworkers or the managers, according to the levels of urgency.
    • Providing opportunities for remote social interaction by talking about non-work activities, thereby reducing the feeling of isolation among remote workers.
    • Offering encouragement and emotional support by listening to the workers, acknowledging their stress, and keeping their needs and issues in focus.
    Why 1:1’s are important
    • Making time for an individual says you give a damn about them as a person.
    • The 1:1 is the only forum where you can have an honest, private, conversation with each other a...
    Set expectations
    • If this is a new process you are putting in place at your company/in your team, be transparent about it.
    • Be clear that you do this with all employees who work directly for you.
    • Book a regular cadence of 1:1s. They should not be ad-hoc. It’s ok to skip one every once and awhile, but having it locked into the calendar is a commitment.
    • Decide the best cadence with them (weekly or every other week? 30 minutes or an hour?) and what the format should be.
    The agenda
    • Topics in a 1:1 should be about professional growth, personal connection and for giving each other feedback. Do not use the meeting to re-hash things from a group meeting, unless there are specific things you took off-line in that meeting or need to provide/get constructive feedback.
    • 24 hours or so before the meeting, email the employee a list of what you’d like to cover. Try to do a split between strategic, tactical and personal items and always ask your employee what they want to cover too. 

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    Feedback provides an opportunity to gain insights about a person's personal and professional actions.
    Without feedback, we will move in the same direction without realizing our shortcomings. ...

    Types of feedback
    • Positive vs. negative. Positive feedback confirms that someone is taking good action, while negative feedback shows what actions need to be corrected.
    • Formal vs. informal. Formal feedback is given on a set schedule, and informal feedback is short and follows after an action or event.
    • Annual vs. monthly
    • Verbal vs. written
    • Manager vs. peer
    Effective feedback
    Effective feedback is:
    • Objective. Don't let your personal feelings get in the way.
    • Timely. Feedback should follow when the event is still fresh.
    • Constructive. Give respect and show that you have their best interests in mind.
    • Actionable. Feedback must include immediate next steps.
    • Warranted. Give your employees room for mistakes and learn from them.

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    The importance of managing expectations

    According to Qualtrics, employees do not engage properly when they are unsure of their company’s goals.

    When your team ...

    Communicate clearly and frequently

    Communication is essential and comes first when setting expectations with your team.

    Have a plan in place from the start to ensure your team understands what you are expecting from them.

    For example, should they report every task they complete? Is there a set amount of time in which they should be able to reply to emails?

    Roles and responsibilities documents

    Your team will work as a unit if every member is aware of their own responsibilities and the importance of their work in the organization.

    This can be accomplished by creating a document that describes their role in the company in detail.

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    Disengaged Employees

    Engagement at work is a sign of employee motivation and resulting productivity. Unfortunately, only about 13% of people globally are engaged at work, and disengaged employees cost the economy $5...

    What Not To Do
    • Do not make assumptions about a disengaged employee's performance. While statistically, such employees do underperform, there can be other reasons too.
    • Do not force an employee to be someone they are not. Everyone cannot be happy and optimistic all the time.
    • Do not get emotional, and stick to a transactional, formal, work-focused style. Do not expect to win their hearts or influence them by appealing to their emotions.
    • Do not assign employees tasks beyond their area of expertise.
    Approaching Disengaged Employees
    • Use extrinsic motivating factors such as incentives and rewards to get productivity from a disengaged employee.
    • Understand what drives them, connect with them, gaining their trust and respect without being emotional, and focus on what they value.
    • Respect an employee's personal space and their need to distance their problems from their work.

    Ultimately, it is what an employee delivers that matters most, and a manager has to focus on figuring out how to get the work done.

    1:1 meetings
    1:1 meetings

    1:1 meetings matter. It is important to nurture that essential employee-manager relationship. But it still not easy to get right.

    Under pressures, managers are still juggl...

    1:1 category

    The goal of an effective 1:1 is not an update from your direct report or for you to lay down some instructions. It's a conversation. It's a chance to hear about your direct reports' ideas for your product, their career goals, and possibly their opinion of their performance.

    Keep a list of three potential topics ready for discussion. When they say they have nothing to discuss, you can jumpstart the conversation with one of your items.

    Manager's best tool

    Your most precious resource is your own time and energy. When you spend it on your team, it helps build healthy relationships.

    Your job as a manager isn't to give advice or 'save the day.'' It's to empower your reports to find the answer themselves. If you want to understand what's going on, ask. Let her lead the conversation while you listen and probe.

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    How Is Employee Retention?

    Employee retention rests on opportunities to learn and advance; work/life balance; a good cultural fit; and an appreciation for good work. High employee turnover is a clear sign that something’s...

    Do Employees Know What’s Expected Of Them?

    Good managers provide continuous feedback to them. This allows the employee to quickly make course corrections and to feel successful.

    Employers should be mindful of those they promote into leadership positions. Strong communication skills are a must when leading a team of people and coaching on this area might be necessary for some.

    Do Employees Feel Cared For?

    A good manager is empathetic to people and demonstrates this routinely.

    If empathy is not a trait in a candidate for management, pair them with a leader who can mentor them on how to manage people before promoting them.

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