Organization & Leadership Consulting

3 Approaches for Setting Clear Expectations

two women in an office discuss strategies for setting employee expectations
Plan a strategy for setting employee expectations to lead to better success.

One way to ensure success among your team is by being clear and upfront about your expectations. To establish a healthy work system, focus on what your employees need to achieve success, which, if articulated clearly, encompasses the company’s success as well. The health of your work environment largely depends on your ability to communicate expectations to your employees in ways that actively value their worth. Here are three approaches to setting clear expectations with your employees. 

Provide Clarity in Expectations

Often in our attempts to value others, we make assumptions about what they already know. Also, in seeking to avoid offending someone, we oversimplify instructions. One of the most meaningful ways to respect your employees is to be clear in your expectations of them, even if it feels like repetition. It also helps to convey in the moment that you believe in them and their capacity to meet those expectations.

An employee expectation list is an invaluable tool. Be sure to invite seasoned employees into these conversations. Discuss each expectation in detail. Emphasize specific objectives and articulate appropriate leeway for how the employee gets there. You could also use this opportunity to discuss your goals for the team culture as a whole. During your discussion, ask questions of your employee. Seek to understand how their personal goals can work together with larger team and company goals. This will help your employee feel more connected with the team. 

Provide space for conversations around work expectations and goals. This opens the door to more conversations in the future. These future conversations contribute to both the success of your employees and the overall health of your work systems. 

Communicate Expectations Early

Best practice says to discuss your employee expectation list at the onboarding of every new employee. Ensure that team members understand their supervisor’s expectations from day one. This also helps define the relationship from the beginning and makes it easier to build on from there. 

If early communication hasn’t been a reality in your current work climate, it’s not too late to start. You can make it a part of your onboarding process at any point. You can even catch up and address clear expectations with your current employees in subsequent meetings. A best course of action for a healthy work environment is to at any opportunity open lines of communication in ways that indicate there is a two-way channel when it comes to needed clarifications. 

Encourage Accountability 

Finally, when communicating expectations, it’s important to define specific milestones of accountability. Your employee expectation list can also help communicate clear check-in points on the way to meeting objectives. Explain how those objectives facilitate meeting goals, and how those goals facilitate the success of everyone.

When you provide clear and constructive feedback, employees can better meet expectations and reach those goals. When you are clear with expectations, employee feedback and progress will be easier to track when the time comes. If you’ve been working hard to build relationships and open lines of communication, these conversations will be more meaningful and productive for your workplace because of that hard work. Connect that hard work to what you and your employees’ value, and you will all be glad you did it.

For more valuable information on leading and developing relationships with your team members, here’s a podcast with John Bacon about building trust. 

For more guidance and clarity in getting meaningful results through a healthy team culture, contact TurningWest.


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