Managing People: Expectations

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A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of business clarity.  This post is the first in a multi-part series about effectively managing and leading others.


I have managed employees for well over a decade.  I have encountered naturally talented employees, and employees that just work harder and hustle more to make up for whatever talent deficiencies they might have (I actually put myself in that category).  I have managed those that seem to “get it” and those that seem a little lost and confused.  I have managed introverts, extroverts, analyzers, intuitive-types, the organized, the creative, and any other possible variation or combination thereof.

I have learned, through much trial and error, that proper expectation setting is the first step in a four step management process that yields the most productive, efficient, successful, and happy employees.

Step 1:  Expectation Setting

Step 2:  Rhythmic Communication

Step 3:  Focus Through Accountability

Step 4:  Autonomy, Pride, and Compassion

Having coached and managed for a long time, I have come to understand that adults, despite the beautiful and strong facades we have built over time, are really just big kids with money, responsibilities and the ability to drive.  We all have a need to feel secure, cared for, believed in, and connected with others.  And ultimately, much like children, deep down inside we crave to belong and to please others.  Don’t perceive this a weakness, but more of primal instinct.

As a manager, the single biggest gift I can give to a new employee is a list of expectations.  To be able to clearly state what I expect of them in a general sense, with some specificity around goals, gives them the opportunity to do or complete what I expect.  That clarity of what their purpose is (within the context of a job/career/position) provides a kind of calmness, understanding, and confidence that “if I do what is expected of me, others will be happy and I will be secure.”  It’s a win-win.

Alternatively, I fail as a manager if I cannot provide clear direction to an employee.  If someone is left guessing, or left to figure out what to do or where to go, it creates an inherent sense of uneasiness and instability in their personal and professional lives. 

Additionally, not knowing where you stand with someone is equally jarring and anxiety producing which is why rhythmic communication is the next step.  More on that in the coming days and weeks ahead!

Do you have thoughts on expectation setting and managing others?  That’s what that little doohickey is for below.  Leave a comment!

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