Knowing what is expected of an employee at work is a fundamental element in any workplace. Yet, international surveys suggest that only 50% of employees would strongly agree that they know what is expected of them at work. This number drops to about one-third in scientific, technical, and computer related work environments. Getting this one thing crystal clear would increase productivity in teams by 5-10% in most companies. Why are a significant number of employees uncertain in this fundamental area? Isn’t it the manager’s job to ensure there is clarity here? Yes, but unfortunately, many managers write a job description and simply move on.
More Than a Job Description
For an employee to know what is expected of them at work, a job description is only a starting point. And, many of them are poorly written, inaccurate/dated, or ask for everything but the kitchen sink. Expectations are a detailed understanding of what one person is supposed to do and how fits in with what everyone else is supposed to do, and how those expectations may change when circumstances change.1 As a Quality Management professional for much of my career, I quickly realized that a procedure could never and should never consider every situation, but provide a framework for reaching company outcomes.
Employees must be clear on:
a) what outcomes are important for their individual contribution,
b) how that complements the work of the rest of their team, and
c) how they contribute to the overall company mission.
An organization which focuses employees and teams on the proper aligned outcomes will always outperform organizations where processes are too specific, rigid, and don’t allow the expression of employee talents and thereby allowing them to find their best ways to perform.
Employees Rise to High Expectations
Expectation-setting is an opportunity to focus on what’s good for the organization, the department, the employee, and for customers. I certainly subscribe to SMART Goals, but my point here is to set expectations for outcome higher. Employees generally want to do a good job and perform – challenge them and help them rise to the occasion. As a servant leader, I recommend setting aggressive goals for outcomes and then roll-up your sleeves, do your part, and help your employees reach for the stars. You’ll be amazed at what can happen in that environment.
About the Author:
David Barski is an executive business coach with over 27 years of management and leadership experience in Fortune 100 companies. David is a Gallup-certified Strengths Coach and an expert in driving employee engagement. David has a passion for helping organizations grow and achieve their mission by investing in winning process, technology and people capital strategies.