- When given a task, two smart and reasonable people might approach it completely differently and still get a favorable result. As a manager, one of the most important things you can do is set expectations for your employees in three specific areas: their interactions with you, interactions within the team, and the completion of work deliverables. Let's start with your individual expectations. What's the best way to communicate with you? How often do you want to be updated on progress and how? If I email you and don't get a response in two days, should I call, text, send another email? Have a conversation with your employees about the expectations you have for your interactions and communication with them individually.
These expectations may be different than the norms your team collectively decides on. When it comes to behavioral expectations, take some time to discuss behavioral norms or ways your team will interact. The topics that come up will probably seem obvious, like being on time, keeping the team informed on your progress, or being respectful. But these each mean different things to different people. The key to establishing norms is to be explicit and define everything. Once you start to discuss what each of these behaviors mean, you'll find that you each may have a slightly different interpretation of what, for example, being on time means.
Does being in the room by 9:00 a.m. and then slipping out to get a cup of coffee mean you were on time? For some, it means you arrive a few minutes before and get yourself set up to be ready to start at 9:00 a.m. on the dot. Others believe a two- to five-minute grace period is within reason and still consider this on time. You can quickly see how something so simple can become complicated by our range of interpretations. Once you've established your team's behavioral norms, document them in a team contract or charter that everyone can access and revisit when necessary.
For a deeper dive on these topics, check out my course on team communication and effective team members in the library. Finally, when it comes to tasks and projects, set expectations on the final deliverable, in terms of scope, and let your employees figure out how to get it done. As you hand off tasks to your team, be clear about what you're requesting. How will you determine if the job was done well? Set specific parameters on the work and give guidance on how success will be measured. Explain all of this up front.
Unless it's absolutely necessary, don't get involved in the details of how they'll complete the work. That can quickly start to feel like micromanagement. Establish a game plan for how you'll check in on progress, whether that's in one-on-one meetings, team meetings, or some other method. Set times when employees know they'll need to update you, so you don't have to wonder or ask at a pace that throws anyone off. People don't do things the way we do, even if we think they should. And that's OK, it just means we need to be clear about our expectations, so everyone can work efficiently and effectively.
Take time to discuss expectations related to individual and team interactions and work completion.
- Setting team goals
- Delegating responsibilities to team members
- Motivating teams
- Building relationships
- Providing coaching, feedback, and training
- Communicating with your team
- Managing different types of teams