Many managers assume their employees understand what needs to be done. While they may inform their employees about the task at hand, they frequently fail when it comes to communicating their expectations. Telling employees to “take care of it” can be an invitation to wasted time through trial and error.
One of the main reasons people leave their jobs is because they feel their boss didn’t tell them what they expected. Without guidance, employees frequently feel as if they are thrown out to sea without a life preserver. They become frustrated and stressed out. However, when employees are provided with guidance and informed of expectations, they are able to perform their duties in a timely and productive fashion. The following tips can help you identify and clarify performance expectations and avoid losing valuable team members.
Regularly schedule meetings. One-on-one meetings are a vital part of planning work and setting expectations. Managers who fail to meet with their staff individually will inevitably end up with problems. Employees who do not receive proper training and instruction are forced to frequently interrupt the leader with endless questions, or worse, work on projects without direction. A brief one-on-one meeting gives the employee access to his or her manager to review work in progress and solve problems before they escalate into a major crisis.
Discuss organizational goals. Talk with employees about department and organizational goals. Discuss how their work can positively impact the achievement of those goals. Use that perspective to develop any performance expectations that directly link their work to those goals.
Be specific and descriptive. The expectations you have for each team member should be specific, descriptive, and clear. If they are vague, they are open to interpretation, which can lead to decreased or unacceptable performance. Make them specific, put them in writing and discuss them openly so that everyone is on the same page.
Ask questions. Initiate two-way conversations with every individual on your team. Get the employee to discuss their expectations and goals. Ask if they are experiencing any work-related problems and take time to brainstorm with them to find solutions. Keep the line of communication open by asking first and asking often.
Listen. If you’re going to ask, you also need to listen. Oftentimes, employees are intimidated by people in supervisory positions. They might not have an immediate thought or they may be afraid they will say too much. Be patient and keep your mouth shut. If you are going to jointly plan work and create expectations, you have to let them talk.
Acknowledgement. While you may not agree with everything the employee says it’s important to acknowledge their feelings and perspective. If an employee feels under-appreciated or ignored, they may subconsciously act out in retaliation. If you want people to adhere to your expectations, acknowledge their value to the organization.
Challenge them. One of the best things you can do for your team members is encourage them to stretch their performance. Set expectations that raise the bar a little and inspire people to reach their potential.
Taking these steps will help you create job expectations that will meet both the organization’s and the individual’s needs.