Setting Clear Expectations for Employees

As a manager, you need to let your employees know your expectations of them clearly and simply. Here is how you can set clear expectations for your employees.

  • You should be as explicit as you can with your staff about expectations.
  • You may monitor productivity using software to see how your staff members react to your revised expectations.
  • To ensure that your expectations are met, you should adjust them based on employee input.
  • This article is intended for managers or project leads who want to give their staff more specific instructions.

Although micromanagers are disliked by everybody, most employees value the assurance that they are doing the correct thing. Each new recruit may have a long-lasting impact on your company by setting expectations and explaining their duties. However, a Gallup poll reveals that almost half of all U.S. employees are unaware of their employers’ expectations for them.

The authors of the study contend that when workers are unsure of what is expected of them, their engagement at work decreases. Only 32% of American workers and 21% of workers worldwide, according to previous Gallup data, are actively engaged at work. Although there are 12 factors that might affect employee engagement, the study indicated that having clear expectations may be the most important. The detailed advice below may teach you how to create these expectations, which may be the key to a thriving workplace.

What are employee expectations?

In addition to traditional performance reviews, Sadie Banks, assistant general counsel and human resources consultant at Engage PEO, said that a variety of workplace elements play a role in determining expectations.

Expectations for workers are influenced by a variety of factors, according to Banks, including industry expectations, internal and external corporate image, client, customer, and vendor relationships, employee product or service expertise, company rules and performance, and even social media.

According to Belinda Wee, an associate professor in the School of Business and Management at Hasson University, every worker should anticipate maintaining the following behaviours at work:

  • Displaying a positive and respectful attitude
  • Working with honesty and integrity
  • Representing the organization in a responsible manner
  • Performing their job to a reasonable, acceptable standard
  • Maintaining good attendance
  • Conducting themselves in a professional manner, even when off duty
  • Following set policies and procedures when dealing with problems or issues

Employees should anticipate specific actions and opportunities from their employers, just as there are expectations for how employees should behave. According to Wee, the following standards for employees’ management are not only necessary but also mandated by law:

  • Proper training, support and leadership
  • Timely and accurate payment of wages
  • Safe and healthy working environments
  • Full disclosure and explanation of the job responsibilities, company policies and procedures
  • Regular feedback on performance from supervisors or managers

Additionally, Banks said that it is reasonable for employees to expect the following:

  • Access to the resources they need to perform their work tasks efficiently and properly
  • Fair and consistent communication and application of policies (e.g., performance, discipline, conduct) across the team
  • Credit and acknowledgment for work achievements

It is a give-and-take relationship where each corporation may raise the bar for its employees and offer them more in exchange.

“It might be perceived as unfair and unprofessional if the company demands loyalty from their staff but does not reciprocate,” said Wee. Dealing with employee expectations necessitates an objective, reasonable, and fair evaluation of the staff.

What are team expectations?

At some time in their lives, most employees will find themselves working in a team. The difference between team expectations and individual expectations is that team expectations should be something for which every team member is responsible while also holding others accountable.

Wee asserted that team expectations and team goals are two different things. Goals are often actions that must be taken, whereas team expectations are for the actions that must be taken when the team completes the goals.

Wee asserted that for a team to be effective and function cohesively, well defined team expectations are required. She stated the following 10 team requirements that each team member must meet:

1.Respect each other, and be courteous and sensitive to everyone’s needs and concerns.

2.Be accountable for your work.

3.Be flexible about job and task assignments.

4.Be willing to help each other instead of displaying an “it’s not my job” attitude.

5.Ask for help when needed.

6.Work safely together.

7.Be open to constructive feedback without being defensive or negative.

8.Be self-motivated and reliable.

9.Share ideas for improvement.

10.Be cheerful, positive and encouraging to other team members.

What are performance expectations?

During the onboarding process, it’s critical to establish precise employee and performance goals for each new hire. What the expectations are and how you plan to measure them should be made clear and precise. According to Banks, the organization should evaluate performance objectives and share them with management or leadership.

The overarching goal of performance expectations, according to her, is to advance a particular business objective while fostering workplace accountability among employees. It is a technique used by a corporation to evaluate how well each person is progressing and meeting position requirements.

Each employee must comprehend the significance of their position and how their duties affect their department and company.

Performance expectations extend beyond a job description and cover a wide range of anticipated results, such as the impact of the work on the organization, the level of service expected to be provided to clients and coworkers, and the organizational values displayed by the employee, according to Wee.

How do you communicate and manage expectations?

Following the establishment of clear expectations, there are a few measures you may take to manage and convey them. Most essential, it is vital to communicate staff expectations in a clear and precise manner. Everyone must agree on the expectations for them in order for you to manage expectations.

Banks advises that you should be clear on achievable targets, give employees a chance to ask questions, and go through the tools needed to do each assignment when you meet with them to communicate and manage expectations. Additionally, it is helpful to clarify the goals of each assignment and often check in with your staff to let them know you are available and paying attention.

Wee suggests arranging one-on-one meetings with staff members to discuss existing tasks and to show considerate and capable leadership. However, because each employee is unique, you might need to use various communication channels to reach them all. For instance, while some might prefer a more hands-off approach, certain team members could prefer frequent face-to-face meetings.

“It is crucial to know what is expected from the employees and teams and establish realistic, fair assignments and deadlines,” Wee said of effectively communicating and managing expectations. Good communication methods are essential to the organization’s success since they reduce employee turnover.

How do you measure employee performance?

After establishing employee expectations, it’s crucial to keep an eye on their performance to spot any discrepancies. If so, you may determine the problem’s location and modify your expectations appropriately.

There are several methods for monitoring your employees’ productivity. Here are a few approaches to assist you decide which one best fits your management style.

Employee monitoring software

Managers may more easily see how their expectations are having an impact on their staff by using employee monitoring software. Each application offers resources for closely observing employee actions, such as the websites they visit and the data they exchange.

Although it is frequently done at a certain time of the year, using personnel management technologies may make it a continual procedure. In order to handle any possible concerns before they have an impact on production, you may obtain real-time information about your staff.

Performance reviews

Many companies do reoccur performance evaluations to provide worker’s feedback. These appraisals aim to emphasize an employee’s strengths while helping them to improve on their faults rather than criticizing their work. The best performance assessments are therefore two-way discussions in which the employee has a voice.


More often than most managers think, asking your staff to monitor their output may be really useful. Your team will probably be as honest on a self-evaluation as you would be when writing a performance assessment if they are invested in their job. Additionally, your staff members could be more knowledgeable than you about the causes of any declines in performance.

A self-assessment is quite easy to write. All you need is a form with pertinent questions about job performance and a place for workers to answer them. You can ask for brief, open-ended responses, multiple-choice responses, or a combination of both. Asking your staff to reflect on their performance might spark a discussion about how they can perform better.

Steps to set expectations for new and existing staff members

When you plan and establish expectations, adhere to these guidelines to increase the likelihood that staff will achieve or exceed them.

1. Determine what your expectations are.

Before you can have a conversation with your staff members, you need to have a conversation with yourself and write down what your realistic expectations are. For example, you may expect staff members to do the following:

  • Complete projects within the given time frame
  • Have a positive attitude
  • Take initiative on starting new projects and coming up with new ideas that can benefit the company
  • Come to work on time
  • Follow the dress code
  • Remain professional at all times when communicating with clients and other staff members
  • Follow up with clients within two business days
  • Respect each other

2. Minimize confusion by making expectations clear.

Success depends on leaders communicating well. It will be challenging for staff employees to live up to your standards if they don’t completely comprehend what you want from them. To make them obvious, you can perform the following:

  • In documentation for new recruits, be clear about your expectations.
  • As an update to your employee handbook or their work duties, provide current employees a digital or printed guide.
  • Don’t just offer your staff members a list of expectations; meet with them to go through them.
  • Answer any inquiries workers may have regarding your expectations.
  • Make sure they are aware of your expectations.

3. Let staff members know why your expectations are important.

Employees may be able to grasp the big picture and feel like their contribution to the firm counts when they comprehend why expectations are crucial.

  • Inform your workers of the importance of your expectations, not simply what they are.
  • Help employees understand how their performance will benefit the organization as a whole if they reach or surpass your goals.
  • Beyond expressing the significance of your expectations, be as specific as you can about the “why” to reduce misunderstanding.

4. Provide examples of why expectations are important.

Explain to your staff how these expectations relate to the company’s overall goals and provide specific examples to support your expectations.

  • Making it to work on time helps make sure everything runs properly.
  • Customers see the business as professional when employees follow the dress code.
  • Maintaining a pleasant attitude at work keeps people motivated and enables them to cope with stress.

5. Get an agreement and commitment.

Make the expectations official by requesting employee approval. Employees take your expectations more seriously when they have signed off on them. If they don’t live up to your expectations, you will have the proof you need to hold them responsible and show how the agreement has been broken.

Expectations are the first step to success

A functional company depends on employee morale, and employee morale is largely influenced by their awareness of daily expectations. Employees can comprehend corporate objectives and make better progress toward them if managers communicate expectations clearly. You face the danger of misinterpretation and low staff engagement if those requirements aren’t stated up front. However, when everyone is in agreement, your business may function like a well-oiled machine.

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