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Why You Need to Set Expectation Baselines for Your Business and Team

Avatar of Autonomous Autonomous | Apr 16, 2021
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It is often said that leaders and managers are under the impression that they know best where the team is concerned. This leads to an autocratic style of decision-making, where directives consistently flow from top management down to employees without any collaborative effort involved. 

The same mindset that causes this often translates to an inability to set expectation baselines where they should be. Why is this? Well, managers often assume that employees have all the necessary information needed to make decisions and carry out their part in operations. However, because of a lack of clear expectation baselines or any expectations at all, staff members can fall short without even knowing why, which creates one of the most unfair situations possible.

Even if employee goal setting is going to be done without a collaborative discussion, the goals must be communicated clearly. If this is not happening, not only can it cause chaos for the team, but it may also be indicative of a gap where manager communication skill is concerned. 

The information below should help you with learning how to set expectation baselines better and communicating them to your workforce. 

Set Clear Expectation Baselines

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The emphasis here is on the word clear. While your expectations may be reasonable and you may communicate them to the team, how well does the team understand? 

Imagine a situation in which virtual employees found themselves facing a host of chronic health issues because they do not have the same kind of ergonomic equipment that their office-based counterparts do. Management may consider this and decide that they want to get each remote employee an electric standing desk and ergonomic office chair to mitigate the situation.

In reviewing company financials, the accounting department may see where it is only possible to pull this off if staff members are going to repay the organization over time. 

Now, the manager responsible for relaying this went ahead and communicated to the workforce that they are all receiving new ergonomic equipment for their homes without making any mention of the repayment requirement.

Now, imagine what would happen if some of the persons who received the said equipment did not have their ability to make the required payments and did not find that they would need to until the furniture was received.

When expectations are being set, ensure that they are relayed to the people they concern. That is the only way to ensure complete understanding and it is bound to yield a better success rate in meeting the said expectations. 

Identify the Areas Where Leadership Expectations Lie

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Leadership expectations can present themselves in a host of different scenarios. As you contemplate the need to set expectation baselines, you must think about the various areas that these expectations can fall under. In the workplace context, they are often about work, communication, time, and culture.

Here is a look at how each of these fits into the puzzle.

Work

This aspect speaks to the responsibilities and roles that an employee has to the business. The first element of getting the expectation right here is to define a job description. The requirements listed in the said job description should be clear, concise, and realistic. Staff members are way too often mandated to go well beyond the limits of their job description with no idea why such an expectation even exists.

Review the scope of work if needed so it is accurate. Additionally, whatever rules and operational procedures are necessary should be covered as soon as possible. Even when the nature of the job is remote, you still need to practice effective virtual communication to get the message across.

Finally, ensure that the depth of knowledge needed for the job is known and understood by all parties, as unconscious incompetence yields one of the most unfair feelings when it is brought to light. 

Communication

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Whether you like it or not, there is a communication expectation in every workplace. The difference is that it may be more formally defined in some than it is in others. From a management standpoint, there should be an acute awareness of all communicative requirements. Therefore, setting the right communication expectations and relating them should not be a tough task. It helps to create and foster a positive work culture in the workplace.

Here, you need to speak to things such as preferential differences, employee habits, and how they all tie in with the environment to set expectations. Set, communicate, and establish rules where necessary, and you can even speak to the kind of behavior expected where meetings are concerned. 

Time

When people get a job, they are being compensated for their expertise and time. As managers, it means you have an expectation where the said time is concerned. However, if you fail to set expectation baselines properly, you are going to end up in a situation where much time wastage and inefficiency happens right beneath your nose.

To this end, communicating how employees are expected to manage multiple tasks and tackle time management with some essential time management tools is almost mandatory. If virtual working is in the picture, the line between formal and informal contexts is going to be blurred. Therefore, there should be performance metrics in place that act as a measuring stick for meeting the expectations that have been set and communicated. 

Culture

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Every organization has a culture, and new people coming in are unfamiliar with it. However, since the expectation is there for them to assimilate into the said culture, they must be given the required information. Principles, conflict communication skills, values, and behaviors are some of the elements that fit into the culture of an organization.

It would be a most unfair situation to reprimand someone for stepping outside the lines of the organizational culture in a less than obvious way if that person was never provided with the required insight. 

How to Identify When Leadership Expectations for Employees Are the Right Ones

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How do you even know that leadership expectations are reasonable and relevant? Here are a few defining features you can look for to set expectation: 

  • Ensure that your expectations are fair to all who are involved.
  • They must be easily communicable. 
  • Whether from a bigger picture or a tactical standpoint, the objectives must contribute in some direct or indirect way to the business’ strategic objectives. 
  • Consider the ethical issues surrounding whatever expectations you may be setting. Proceed only if you are meeting your ethical responsibility. 

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