First things first: your employees need to know what you expect of them in order to succeed. We will work through the four steps of setting expectations.
1. Define the requirements.
2. Identify opportunities for improvement and growth.
3. Discuss the requirements.
4. Put it all in writing.
Defining the Requirements
The first step is to define the requirements for the chosen task. In other words, what will success look like? You will want to develop your own set of criteria first, and then review it with the employee to get their valuable ideas and input.
Here are some questions to help you get started, focused around the five W’s and the H.
- How does the task tie into organizational goals?
- Why are we doing this task?
- What are the key parts to the task?
- What steps will be involved?
- What should the end result look like?
- Who will the employee need to talk to?
- When should the employee report back?
- This framework can be used for individual tasks, projects, and even expectations about the position itself.
Identifying Opportunities for Improvement and Growth
The best expectations are those that encourage the employee to grow and stretch. So, when setting expectations, you should explore all the possibilities and share them with your staff members.
Here is an example. Let’s say you have some training tasks that you would love to delegate, but you’re worried that the task would overwhelm anyone on your team. After all, many people aren’t comfortable speaking in public.
However, during your expectations meeting, one of your senior staff members mentions that she is interested in learning more about training. This is the perfect opportunity to reduce your workload and to help your employee develop her skills, not to mention increase her job satisfaction. Everyone wins!
Likewise, your employee may have hopes and dreams but may be unwilling to share them for fear of being rejected, or for fear that they can’t meet their own expectations. Your leadership and encouragement is essential to help your employees grow and develop. Encourage employees to try new things and provide them with the support they need. An action plan that gradually increases tasks and responsibilities is one way to do this.
Setting Verbal Expectations
Expectations can be verbal or written, depending on the situation. For informal expectation-setting meetings, such as a new, simple task, verbal expectations can suffice.
To make sure you’ve covered all the bases, use the 5 W’s and the H during your discussion.
Putting Expectations in Writing
It’s never a bad idea to write down your expectations. This document can be kept for your records, and it can be shared with the employee so they have something to refer to.