Managing expectations within the team is a key component to maximising performance and productivity. In order to nurture a fruitful relationship between colleagues, it is vital that everyone understands what is expected of them by the rest of the team, whether these expectations be conscious or subconscious. In addition, it is important that they have realistic expectations in regards to their own career. This is critical to maintaining motivation within the group. While this may seem like a simple endeavour, many leaders struggle to both set out and manage expectations.
So how can teams ensure everyone is on the same page in regards to duties and progression? Below are a few simple suggestions.
Ensure Structure & Clarify Roles
Within any organisation, there are a set of objectives which are met by individuals who assume responsibilities. A critical element to managing expectations is that the team are clear on how these responsibilities are to be divided. It is important that the team meet together each week (or perhaps day, in a fast-paced environment), to discuss capacity for each of them and tasks to be assigned. The vital consideration here is that all members of the team feel comfortable being honest about their capacity so they can seek help with urgent work when necessary. It is important that the team understand the consequences of under-performance – both personally and for the organisation – however this matter must be dealt with sensitively so as not to demotivate.
While everyone within the team will have varying levels of ambition, you can be sure of one thing: everyone is there for a reason. It is your job as an employer to find out what that reason is. Some will simply work to pay the bills, others will have a burning desire to reach executive level or even start their own company. All too often, leaders assume that every member of the team wants to progress to the same point at the same pace, and that it is ability which differentiates them. However, the reality is much more complex. As a leader, you must encourage open, candid discussions about aspirations and what each individual member of the team expects to achieve from being within the organisation.
By this I mean in regards to what exactly is in your gift, so to speak. Employee progression happens for one of two reasons. Attrition or growth. Within larger organisations there is enough attrition across the board so that promotions at a junior level may seem infinite, becoming more scarce at senior rank. However, smaller businesses have a much harder time meeting progression expectations. Often, you may only be able to award promotion when a specific role becomes available for one reason or another. For this reason it is important that you are clear with members of the team about what their progression track will look like within the company. However, this should not be a disempowering conversation as you should use this opportunity to highlight the benefits of working for your particular organisation whether this is great employee perks, a good bonus system or a fantastic work-life balance. Employees who value speedy hierarchical progression may decide you are not the employer for them however this will make it more likely that you will build a team who which is a perfect fit for your organisation.
You will have noticed that the common theme in regards to managing expectations is great communication. You must establish trust and confidence through your relationship with your employees as this will make it more likely that you will have honest and candid conversations which will lead to a rise in satisfaction for both parties.