Setting Expectations

Setting Expectations

 “We can’t talk to the world about being excellent and # 1 if we don’t talk to each other about excellence every day”

Our success depends on the high standards and expectations you set and maintain. It’s an every day activity. Use these tips and guidelines and our conversation plan to help you.

Video Learning:

Listen to Steve Jobs on standards and expectations.

When to set expectations:

It's an everyday activity
  • Set clear expectations and standards during induction
  • Agree objectives/KPIs and review progress as part of our  Performance Development Process
  • Set high standards when allocating or reviewing work
  • Give your team regular feedback on performance against those expectations
  • Ensure your team understand the behaviours expected under our Code of Conduct
  • Delegate effectively to leverage your time and grow capability
  • Take action to ‘get performance back on track‘ when performance or behavior falls short of expectations set.

Where should expectations come from?

The expectations you set should come from
  • What are the key responsibilities of the job description and what specific outcomes are you looking for?
  • What’s the best contribution the employee can make to the objectives of their team or work group?
  • What standards of quality or productivity would you expect from a fully effective employee in this role?
  • What behaviors do we expect from employees to reflect our values?
  • In what areas do you expect to see growth and performance development?

What does meeting expectations look like?

These definitions help you assess performance or behaviour
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How to talk with people about your expectations

Use our conversation plan  to prepare for the discussion. It works like this:

Step 1: Open the conversation and describe its purpose

It’s important that team members understand the background to the expectations you are setting. How does the performance of their job contribute to the wider purpose and objectives of the team and our business? Why is what they do, and how they do it, important? Having a wider sense of the value of what we do and how it connects to the bigger picture usually increases motivation and helps employees (and their team) operate cooperatively?

Step 2: Describe the results expected - SMART descriptions

The expectations you set should be in the form of written objectives, goals or targets, or similar descriptions of the results you expect. You should prepare and use S.M.A.R.T descriptions for your expectations as follows:

“Handle all customer enquiries to our prescribed procedures and quality standards”
“eg. Consents processed in 20 days.”
Don’t set an expectation that is clearly not achievable or understood
i.e. expectations must focus on the most important contribution the person’s role makes to our organisation
The expectation must have a deadline i.e.“within 3 weeks”
Step 3: Is the person clear what is expected?

Simply stating what you expect is not enough. Often people misunderstand what we say we expect or become confused over priorities and measures. Give the employee time to reflect on what you’ve said (or provided) and then ask whether they are clear about your expectations. To avoid confusion, ask the employee to repeat back the expectations and standards you have communicated.

Step 4: Are there any barriers to their delivering what is expected?

Committing in principle to expectations is important, but practical issues often get in the way of delivery. Check with the employee that they have the tools, time, knowledge, training, materials etc to deliver what is required; and that they understand how priorities should be handled. It’s often a good idea to give the employee a short period of time to reflect on the expectations you’ve set and come back with any of these practical issues that need to be resolved to ensure success.

Step 5: How will we monitor progress?

People do what we ‘inspect’ not what we ‘expect’ and so regular ‘on track’ reviews are essential to make sure expectations are being met. As part of the setting expectations conversation you should agree how and when progress will be measured. Consider brief monthly ‘on track’ reviews or schedule brief verbal or email reports. Make sure though that the person fully understands your ‘no surprises’ policy, meaning they should talk to you as soon as it becomes apparent they may not be able to deliver the agreed expectations.

Step 6: Do you have their commitment?

With the expectations clear, issues around resourcing resolved and agreement in place on how progress will be measured, you should ask the employee for their commitment to delivering on those expectations. Ask specifically for this ‘verbal handshake’ as you close out the conversation. It’s a good idea to express your confidence in the employee’s ability to deliver and perhaps reiterate your ‘no surprises’ policy. Let them know you are available to help and support, if required. Continue to prepare a conversation plan using the template provided.