How to Set & Manage Expectations - Part 1

How to Set & Manage Expectations - Part 1

"High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation" – Charles F. Kettering

Understanding your role as a leader

Many supervisors and managers believe that advising a team of the "work objective," i.e., the result you are looking for is sufficient guidance for a team to achieve a great business result.     It is easy to forget that there are some key respon­sibi­lities and acco­un­ta­bili­ties that sit alongside the titles Supervisor and Manager.  We must each remember that the responsibility for making sure that the achievement of maximum group effort lies with us!  You may lead a team with excellent individual skills and talent;  this alone will not achieve significant results unless the team knows precisely what will be expected.

The first critical step is to ensure that you know precisely what you are expecting from your team.  Only when you are clear in your own mindset of your expectations will you define the expectations for your team clearly.

If you do not clearly define what you anticipate, things can quickly become very chaotic.   Remember, you can only measure success and assess how individuals work if everyone has agreed to the expected guidelines.

What do we mean by expectations

As leaders, we should remember that setting very detailed aims for projects or day to day work duties is essential. We should never forget to also define our expectations in terms of an individual's general behaviour.  As individuals, each of our team members will have unique thoughts on what is acceptable and what isn't in terms of behaviour.  This applies to actions at work, in the same way as it applies to all walks of life.  It is vital that we set clear behavioural expectations for our teams too; in this way, our colleagues will have clear guidelines in all areas of their employment, and effective performance management should be easier for you.

Communicating expectations

Communication is key.  As leaders, we must communicate our desired standards and define clear expectations.­  If we do not communicate well, our colleagues will be confused and if they do not understand the expected standards, they will not abide by them. Aim to communicate your expectations clearly and concisely to avoid misin­ter­pre­tation and confusion successfully.­  By doing this, you will find that it is easier for you to manage your team.  Many of the behavioural expectations may be defined in employment contracts, company policies or handbooks.  Still, it is better to express your expectations in terms of a project or day to day work.  It is, however, essential that you ensure that your expectations are within policy guidelines so you will need to take time to digest all relevant policies before setting any objectives.

A good leader should always practice the same standards and guidelines that they expect from their colleagues.  A leader's mindset in terms of setting and communicating expectations should always be one of leading by example.

Key Learnings so far

Unambiguity is key to being a good leader. Even if your team has the talent and experience to do their job well, they will not be successful as a team if what they are supposed to work on is not 100% clear.

This is the reason why great sport managers and coaches are so revered.  Just having the talent is not good enough!  Many of the most highly paid football managers have some of the most expensive players in the world, but their teams do not win trophies.  By comparison, the "All Blacks" New Zealand rugby team are so great and revered as they each know exactly what is expected of them in terms of their own goals as well as the team's objectives.  The whole squad has a winning mindset, and the New Zealand management team communicate the objectives so well.

The next part of the article will deal with the critical management mindset and essential ways to set and manage expectations with your team.  Monarch Personnel can help your organisation to understand the mindset required for clear communication.  Contact us to learn more about why mindset matters or sign up for our newsletter to receive all articles in this series. 
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