How Great Leaders Manage Employee Expectations

Do you know what your employees expect of their jobs, their manager, or the business as a whole? And if you do know (or think you know), are you doing anything in your leadership position within the organisation to actively manage employee expectations?

Employee expectations are often a major headache for managers, especially those with the old-fashioned mindset that employees should be happy with whatever their job is giving them. Unaddressed employee expectations lead to reduced morale in the workplace and lower employee engagement.

If your employee expectations haven’t caused any noticeable problems in your workplace so far, no one can really blame you for adopting an “if-it’s-not-broken-don’t-fix-it” attitude. But keep in mind that what you can’t see, or choose not to see, can rear its ugly head one day, so heads up!

Below are measures you can take to meet your employee expectations, now and in the future:

Clearly define the role of each employee

From the very first job interview to their first day at work, you should be direct and honest with the employee about the responsibilities and challenges their job comes with. Discuss in detail the physical and/or mental demands, the work environment and potential stressors they should be prepare for.

Clearly state to the new employee exactly what your expectations are and make sure to repeat them over and over as you orient and on-board them into their new job. You also need to have these honest discussions about expectations when the employee takes on a new role in the company, where they are moving up, down or sideways in your organisational structure.

Connect them with the company culture

In order to effectively set and manage employee expectations in the workplace, you must help the employee comprehend and appreciate how they contribute to the organisation as a whole.

It’s not enough to just show them the company’s mission statement – you need to go ahead and elaborate why it means so much to you as a company. Have a deep conversation about the company culture, paying specific attention to focusing on the employee’s particular role in organisation and how what you expect of them on the job contributes to making the company’s mission statement a reality.

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Make it easy for new employees to get naturally immersed into the company culture by fostering personal connection with their team members both in and out of the office. For example, schedule a team outing within the employees first couple of weeks on the job, it can be something as simple as going on a picnic in the park together. This can help the employee find their groove in the team much faster, not to mention the boost in motivation it provides.

Help them become better

Your employees want to be challenged and be improved. They want to be given the trust, respect and responsibility for taking their own decisions. They want more control over their careers, so tying them down to a cubicle or micromanaging them will simply demoralise them, and they will likely leave.

A 2016 study by the Association for Talent Development found that organisations that develop their people boast an incredible 218 percent higher income per employee, and a 24 percent higher profit margin, than those that don’t.

So make sure to create opportunities for your employees to develop their skills more such as supporting their further studies or regularly sending them to industry conferences.

Employee Expectations

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Offer more flexibility at work

Managers are often wary of making work more flexible for employees because they fear they will lose control of their teams but with the latest trends in human resource management, this simply isn’t the right way of thinking anymore.

Besides, people respond very well to increased autonomy: a study of almost 1,400 employees and managers in the U.K. revealed that 54 percent of workers felt productive through flexible working, and 75 percent felt more satisfied in their roles.

More and more people today don’t want to feel like they are failing at work because they have children to take care of, or need a more convenient working schedule.

A 2014 YouGov/McCann poll of U.K. workers found that most of those aged 35 to 44 rated work-life balance more important than salary.

Appreciate and recognise them more

Always make it a point to show your appreciation to your team members, especially when they have gone the extra mile for you or their colleagues, or have delivered excellent performance.

Remember it’s a virtuous circle: if your team members know that their hard work or great ideas are appreciated and rewarded, even if it’s with a simple “thank you,” then they will continue to give you their best.

Quit being shady, be more transparent

The modern business environment is a fast-changing one, organisations today are more prone than ever to wide-sweeping changes at any time, from mergers and acquisitions to downsizing and bankruptcy. It has therefore become more important than ever to keep your employees informed and at ease about the future of their employment status. The last thing your company needs a workplace frozen with tension as this greatly affects employee productivity. Honesty and open communication foster employee trust in the organisation which is very vital to the success and growth of your company.

Create room for more involvement and creativity

Employees desire the opportunity for creative expression. They want to feel directly involved and invested in what your organisation is doing and how it is doing it, so allow them to participate. Focus less on the rules, and more on your company’s mission and objectives, as you create these avenues for your employees to express themselves creatively.

One of the most successful examples of this strategy of actively encouraging employee creativity is when Google rolled out to its employees the 20 Percent Time scheme which allowing them one day per week to spend on any side project of their choice – it led to the birth of Gmail, Adsense and Google Maps, all of which are some of Google’s leading products today.

Be friendly but within professional boundaries

As a manager it important to develop and nurture a personal connection with your employees as this can go a long way in motivating them to work harder, understanding their issues when they are underperforming and resolving conflicts between them when they naturally arise.

However, you must be careful to maintain professional boundaries at all times such that no employee ever feels that they or others have an unfair sway in your decision making.

Furthermore, it is important to keep things professional in order to avoid any abuse of power that could easily arise from getting too close to an employee, especially romantically.

In Summary

Employee expectations often go unaddressed in many organisations and yet employees are the most valuable asset in every one of them.

Managers need to take more deliberate and regular steps to understand and cater to their employee expectations in order to achieve success in their roles.

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald is a freelance writer with a pen that is keen for entrepreneurship, business and technology. When he isn't writing insightful articles on employee engagement and corporate culture, Gerald can be found writing for a number of media outlets.