If you were to ask your team today what they believe you expect in their workplace performance, would their response align with your reality?
In most cases, leaders believe their expectations are crystal clear when, in fact employees are not so sure. The truth is, if you’re not specifically sitting down with your employees, detailing your expectations, and checking for alignment you’re not going to get the results you want.
Why are clear expectations so important?
Clear expectations keep employees focused. With clear goals and targets, it becomes much easier for employees to channel their energy and focus appropriately. Specific tasks and responsibilities also indicate to the employee what not to focus on, such as other team member’s projects or lengthy email chains.
Defining clear expectations can reduce stress and frustration for both managers and employees. In fact, unclear expectations are one of the top stressors in the workplace — leaders aren’t getting what they want and employees don’t know how to perform.
Performance evaluations and constructive feedback become more effective and actionable when taken in the context of pre-defined expectations. Performance reviews become more objective and less emotional when based on pre-defined goals.
How to close the “Expectation Gap”
The “Expectation Gap” plagues many businesses and can lead to low performance, employee/manager dissatisfaction and failure to execute on key performance initiatives. As a leader, here’s what you need to know about closing the gap:
1. Clearly Communicate Vision, Strategy and Direction
Confusion is the number one killer of performance; remove confusion and you open the pathways to a more involved, engaged and focused team. Define the vision, strategy and direction of the organization, as well as the individual goals. Help team members see how their work impacts the overall organization. Revisit these points periodically to ensure your team is on course.
2. Align Various Types of Expectations
Expectations take various forms: the organization, the individuals and the cultural:
- Organizational expectations are broad and encompass the mission and strategy of the business.
- Individuals expectations inform employee behavior and performance goals. They should be aligned with the organizational goals.
- Cultural expectations relate to day-to-day operations, teamwork, employee relations and so on. Acknowledging and defining each layer eliminates the guesswork.
Aligned expectations and a common purpose are central to a high-performing, high-functioning team. Discover The Holy Grail of Teamwork and start leveraging the most untapped competitive advantage: teamwork!
3. Prioritize Employee Development
Taking the time to develop, coach and mentor your employees reaps better results when expectations have been clearly outlined. Employees feel more valued in the workplace and thus more engaged and enthusiastic, when their leaders actively give opportunities to strengthen skills and performance. Employee development is a clear indicator of the type of behaviors and performance that are valued in the organization. Finally, employee development goes hand-in-hand with feedback, where it creates open dialogue for how leadership and employees can both improve to achieve exceptional results.
Is your team suffering from the “Expectation Gap?”
I have found, time and time again unclear expectations are the number one culprit of low performance, disconnected teams and workplace frustrations.
Clarity in expectations starts at the top. If the leadership team does not have clear expectations and aligned priorities this chasm will widen as it cascades down through the organization.
Explore how we can design a Leadership Team Retreat or Quarterly Offsite and eliminate your organization’s “Expectation Gap.”