The Power of Clarity: How an Expectations List Enhances Managerial Effectiveness

by Wire Tech

Import from people-equation.com

From time to time, I have discussions with an experienced director-level leader about managerial matters. As someone who has supervised technical professionals for more than a decade, this leader brings a wealth of experience, and I highly value his insights. Recently, during one of our conversations, he mentioned an Expectations List that he provides to new employees in his department. It’s a document he put together a few years back to outline expectations that might not be explicitly stated in job descriptions.

He’s graciously agreed to share it for the benefit of The People Equation readership. While some of the expectations are specific to their organization, I’ve selected excerpts that I believe are applicable to any manager overseeing knowledge workers.

Sample Expectations List

  • Be professional. We’re pretty relaxed yet very busy. Promote yourself as a competent technical resource and you will boost your opportunities.
  • Look for work. I expect you to keep yourself occupied on work related tasks. If you are waiting for someone to notice that you need another assignment, you risk the impression that you are not dedicated to promoting the success of our company. Be proactive!
  • Follow through. If someone owes you a deliverable – you have my permission to, tactfully, be a pest! E-mail them, text them, send them something in Slack, I don’t care if it is [name of company president] who promised you information. I will back you up.
  • Persevere. Being wrong is NOT a failure; it is a learning opportunity. Risk taking will lead to learning opportunities. Not progressing because you don’t have all of the answers will give the impression of a lack of ability. Creating open issues will generate the needed actions and get others involved. Take calculated risks and be known as a “doer”.

The Benefits of Clearly Setting Managerial Expectations

No doubt, you’ve noticed that this list doesn’t contain any technical, job-related duties. The reason this expectations list is so useful is that it spells out – clearly – what this leader expects in the way of people-skills. So often, all new employees have is a job description and those don’t always help them parse out the more people-related skills needed for success in their new job.

This list also provides context for how to go about employing these skills. This is incredibly useful to employees because they will have the “guardrails” to let them know exactly how far to stretch when being, for example, persistent when tracking down colleagues to request information.

Managers who go the extra mile and clearly communicate their expectations surrounding people-skills will experience these benefits:

  1. Clarity: By providing a comprehensive Expectations List, managers can ensure that employees have a clear understanding of what is expected of them, reducing misunderstandings and enhancing productivity.
  2. Alignment with Organizational Goals: When employees understand how their work contributes to the broader goals of the company, they are more motivated and engaged. Managers can use the Expectations List to communicate how each employee’s role fits into the larger picture, fostering a sense of purpose and alignment throughout the organization.
  3. Promoting Accountability: By clearly outlining performance expectations and deliverables, managers provide employees with a roadmap for success. Employees are more likely to take ownership of their work and hold themselves accountable for meeting or exceeding expectations when they have a clear understanding of what is expected of them.
  4. Facilitating Feedback and Performance Management: Managers can refer back to the list during performance evaluations to assess whether employees are meeting expectations and identify areas for improvement. Additionally, the list provides a framework for constructive feedback discussions, allowing managers to address any discrepancies between expectations and performance in a clear and objective manner.
  5. Enhancing Communication: By documenting expectations in writing, managers ensure that there is no ambiguity or miscommunication regarding job responsibilities and performance standards. The list serves as a reference point for discussions about expectations, allowing for open and transparent communication between managers and their teams.
  6. Supporting Employee Development: By outlining expectations for performance and behavior, managers provide employees with a roadmap for success and identify areas for skill development. Employees can use the list as a guide for self-assessment and goal-setting, empowering them to take ownership of their professional development.

How to Use an Expectations List

In addition to sitting down with new employees, this leader sometimes does a refresher meeting on these expectations – such as when an employee needs to be reminded, or at performance review time. In that sense, it’s a “living document”, meant to drive conversation about performance and whether or not expectations are being met.

These talking points are simply the start of a dialog between manager and employee – a way to open the door to a conversation that will help both parties better understand expectations – for the duration of the employment relationship. Being part of a viable organization requires accountability and action to ensure strong communications and a workplace culture primed for success.

The post The Power of Clarity: How an Expectations List Enhances Managerial Effectiveness appeared first on People Equation.

Original Article Published at People Equation

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