Setting Expectations as a Leader

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How clear are you with your team?

From our book, Employees Not Doing What You Expect, the number one reason that employees do not meet your expectations is because they’re unclear about what you expect.

Here are three tips to help them understand and meet your expectations consistently:

1. Clarify your expectations.

Make sure expectations are clear with your direct reports, your peers, and even with your managers.

Bosses and managers will often interfere with your work, but if  you are clear when you go in to your manager and say, “Hey, I want to run this by you and get a couple of tips,” then  you are setting your expectations for them.

With your team and peers, you need to focus on the tasks that need to get done, deadlines, and quality. But you will also need to focus on the behaviors towards each other, you, the company, and the tools and assets that they interact with.

2. Confirm that your existing team members understand your expectations.

If there is a problem in behavior or performance, the first thing you can ask your team members is, “Tell me what you think.” That way you can start with understanding their baseline expectations.

Do they understand what you have communicated to them? It is one thing to set expectations with new team members up front when you first hire them, but it is another thing to go back to employees who have been on your team for quite some time and clarify whether they understand your expectations or not.

3. Avoid being vague.

A lot of times, we will say things like, “I need that right away,” or, “Can you get that to me as soon as possible,” or: “I will get right back to you.”

These phrases are very nonspecific.

Whenever there is a disconnect between expectations, there is room for disappointment. Be clear about what you need, when you need it, how good it needs to be done, and why it is so important to do that. Share on X

People will rise up to meet your expectations as a leader more consistently this way.

Once you have figured out how to clearly communicate to your team, there is a whole raft of other leadership principles and characteristics you are going to want to work on—and that is our specialty.

Have you invested in your team’s growth yet? We’d love to help!