Hi readers :-)
This week I want to start off by asking you to think back to the last time you ordered a meal at a café or restaurant. Normally the situation plays out like this: a waiter comes over and asks what you would like to order, in return you clearly outline what you would like, “I’ll have the eggs benedict with a side of bacon, and a long black please”. Nine times out of ten the waiter returns with your order exactly as you requested. Now I want you to imagine what it would be like if you walked into said café and assumed the waiter knew your order, (or your expectations in the case of today’s blog).
You’re probably thinking, “Amy, I would never walk into a café and not tell the waiter my order” and that there is exactly my point. We have no problems in making a clear order with a waiter yet somehow we completely forget this important bit of communication when it comes to leading a team. Failing to have clear expectations with your team can lead to a multitude of challenges when it comes to leading a successful team and a lot of these challenges can all be traced back to both yourself and your team being unclear about expectations. You might think that your expectations do not need to be shared with your team because it's 'common sense', but here’s the thing about common sense, it’s becoming less ‘common’, as well as the fact that what’s common sense to you through the eyes of a leader or business owner is not common sense to someone who works for you.
So, have you had a recent conversation with your team about the expectations you have for them? and furthermore, do you know what your team expects from you as their leader. If your answer is “No”, then continue to read and let the below encourage you to do so. If the answer is “Yes”, please still read it and let it be a refresher.
1. Stop Assuming and Start Communicating
How many times have you said to your team, or heard from your leader, “I assumed you would know..” or “I expected you to know…”.
We need to stop assuming that our team know what is expected of them if we have never had this conversation with them. And no, I’m not talking about that contract in the filing cabinet that they signed when they started working for you (whilst that legal document is very important on it’s own right). I’m talking about the day-to-day stuff; from the way they show up to the workplace, to the actions that need to be done daily, the way they interact with clients/customers and their team, etc, etc.
2. Write a List of Expectations
I’ve found the reason why we struggle to implement expectations is because we’re not actually sure how to word what we expect from our team (goes back to the start of this blog when I talk about what we see as ‘common sense’). If you’re unsure what expectations you have for you team then I suggest you write a list of what you do not want your team to do and work backwards.
For example, you might not want your team to be at work late, therefore your expectation could sound something like, "I expect that everyone is job ready at their start time of 8am. If you like to make yourself a cuppa and chat to everyone before you start work that's fine by me, just make sure you come into work around 7:45am so that you can still do this and be ready for work at 8am".
3. How You Present This Is Key
Once you have established your list of expectations it’s time to share it with your team. This is best done in a team meeting to begin with, then follow up with everyone individually in their next one-on-one. The reason why it’s important to follow up individually is it gives your team members to ask you any questions that they may not have felt confident enough to raise in the team meeting.
When sharing your expectations with your team PLEASE DO NOT LECTURE THEM. Your tone, the words you use and your body language are what makes the difference between “Woah, our boss is a controlling and we’re not allowed to have any fun in the workplace” and “Ok cool. Now I have a clear understanding of what my job entails”.
4. Be Open to Receiving Feedback
Once you’ve shared your expectations with your team ask them if they have any questions or feedback around what you’ve just shared. Even better, go one step further and ask what it is they expect from you as their leader. The first time you ask this question you might hear the crickets chirping and that’s normal. Encourage them to take their time and come back to you later, even share with them the method of starting with what they do not want and working back.
5. Consistency in Communication
After the team meeting and one-on-one's it’s all about you as the leader keeping things consistent and keeping the communication lines open. When that one out of ten chance of the waiter messing up our order happens we are able to talk to them about rectifying it as we know we clearly explained our order (expectations). The same goes in the workplace; when we have laid the foundation of clear expectations with our team and someone is failing to meet those expectations it removes some of the fear surrounding ‘performance conversations’, as we know we have made it clear what we expect of them, and we can refer back to this in our conversation with them.
There you have it, my top 5 tips on how to create and implement your expectations with your team.
Now off you go and put this into action.
Have a great day :-)
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