Setting employee expectations

Many employees leave organizations as a direct result of poor communication and unclear expectations.

Some feel that they’re being kept in the dark because their manager hoards information or success is a moving target. They don’t understand how the work they do fits into the broader plans of the organization, and when employees don’t have enough information (or the right kind), performance and morale both suffer.

The ability to clearly set and communicate expectations to employees is critical to a business’ success. Having clear expectations in place eliminates confusion, misunderstandings, frustration, resentment, damaged feelings, unproductive conflict, and costly mistakes and rework. With clear expectations, employees understand the reasons behind the tasks they’re assigned and are more motivated to problem solve as needed to achieve goals.

Most leaders don’t intend to leave employees in the dark; they simply need to focus a bit more attention on the talents and skills of each employee so they can guide each person appropriately. Employees must be provided with instructions and given all the information they need to accomplish a task successfully.

Employee supervisor communication

When delegating assignments, it’s especially important to focus on some communication basics, such as being specific about what needs to be accomplished. You must also listen carefully and respectfully to what the employee is telling you. This interaction will help build trust and synergy related to the task by showing that the employee’s talents and ideas are valuable.

It also sets the stage to solve problems constructively. It’s not uncommon for an employee to encounter barriers or obstacles when trying to complete a challenging assignment. By maintaining a productive, two-way conversation, you will be better able to coach and mentor employees through tough situations.

When meeting to discuss expectations with the employee, begin by talking through the overall plan and objectives. The employee should have a good understanding of why the task is important to the business and how it fits into broader organizational goals.

Then, determine the specific tasks that are necessary to accomplish the assignment. Help the employee break down the larger expectation into smaller, actionable steps. You will want to consider the employee’s current workload, skills, and development needs when making the new assignment.

Assignments that are delegated effectively include all the information the employee needs to successfully complete the task, such as the expected end result, who is responsible, when the assignment must be completed, why it is important, and how it should be addressed. Depending on the experience of your employees, you may need to adjust your natural communication style to fit their capabilities.

Always set specific dates and times to follow up on your employees’ progress before ending your conversations. You will want updates on each employee’s successes, challenges, and status with the assignment. Stay informed. It’s crucial that you know how he or she is coming on completing the assignment well before it is due. This helps eliminate unpleasant surprises (like missed deadlines).

When you set expectations and delegate effectively, your employees aren’t the only ones who benefit. You will also better able to manage your own time and talents. It is important to have the courage to step away from the demands of the daily task and coach your employees to stretch their abilities and achieve greater success.

CMOE has worked with leaders all over the globe to help them clarify expectations and set clear direction for their team members. Contact CMOE to learn how we can help you increase your team’s performance by helping you clarify your team’s mission, vision, values, and strategy.


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About the Author
CMOE’s Design Team is comprised of individuals with diverse and complementary strengths, talents, education, and experience who have come together to bring a unique service to CMOE’s clients. Our team has a rich depth of knowledge, holding advanced degrees in areas such as business management, psychology, communication, human resource management, organizational development, and sociology.

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