Here’s a simple question: Does your team know what you expect from them?
The ideal answer is yes, and most leaders believe this to be true. But when you dig a little deeper and ask both sides, you discover there’s two sides to every story.
Most leaders believe their expectations are crystal clear, but employees aren’t so sure. When expectations are misaligned, you’re not going to get the results you want.
We call this discrepancy the “Expectation Gap.”
Why is closing the “Expectation Gap” important?
Aligned expectations keep employees focused.
Clear goals and targets alleviate the confusion of where to channel their focus.
In any organization, a million things are going on at any given moment, but only a handful of them are the sole responsibility of each. Laying out expectations also informs the employee on what you do not expect from them.
Clarity minimizes stress and frustration.
You want one thing, your employee thinks you want another, and you both end up frustrated.
Remove the guesswork and save yourselves a ton of time by being on the same page from the get-go. Unclear expectations are one of the top stressors in the workplace, according to employees.
Performance is more measurable.
Either the goal was achieved, or it wasn’t. Specific targets and goals eliminate subjective and emotional feedback.
How do you close the gap?
1. Remove the confusion.
Define strategy and direction of your organization, as well as individual goals directly from the point of hire.
Confusion is a byproduct of unclear expectations; nip the problem in the bud and establish a clear pathway to success, including periodic performance reviews and feedback sessions to reemphasize goals.
2. Distinguish the various types of expectations.
Expectations can be broken down into three major areas:
- Organizational: strategy and mission
- Individual: personal targets and goals; performance and behavior
- Cultural: day-to-day operations; vision and values; teamwork
3. Develop your employees.
Training, mentoring, performance reviews, etc. are indirect ways of expressing your expectations.
When employees are given straight-forward pathways for success, they will generally feel more appreciated and perform better. What’s more, communication becomes more fluid in the organization; when an employee is unclear on expectations, they feel more comfortable to ask.
4. Ask them.
Check in with your employees regularly.
- Do they understand their responsibilities?
- Do they have any questions or concerns?
- Can you support them in any way?
When an employee feels they cannot ask a question or request help for whatever reason, a minor issue can quickly escalate into a bigger problem. Consider allocating a dedicated amount of time per week strictly for handling employee enquiries.
Our team of professionals have decades of experience working in executive roles and are well-equipped to coach and mentor leaders across multiple industries.
Closing the “Expectation Gap” starts with a conversation.