If you’re not clear about what is expected of you at work, you’re not alone. It turns out that according to a Gallup poll of over 550 organizations and 2.2 million employees, 50% of employees and even their managers say that their expectations are unclear and do not know exactly what is expected of them at work. The biggest reason that understanding what is expected of us and also, as leaders, making the expectations clear is that if expectations are clear, this can increase productivity 5-10% and also impacts employee retention and improves safety too. So, what are the main causes of unclear expectations?
Well, one main reason is that the organization itself may not have clearly defined organizational objectives and then, even if they do, it isn’t made clear how those relate to the individual’s specific context in their role. For example, one of us once worked with a company who said “our goal is to be the #1 performer in our industry this year.” Well, although an inspiring mission and vision, attempting to delineate what this means for me as I sit at my desk is an entirely different story. And often as leaders we can take it for granted that people really understand this too. Additionally, as leaders we can be just as confused as our followers. The other thing that can make understanding the expectations is that often employees and leaders are working cross-functionally and job descriptions don’t necessarily align with the original intention of the role in many instances.
So, what to do? Well, the first thing to do is to understand exactly, what is it that we are doing and then, who is in charge of making decisions and when? That helps. Also, there is just no substitute for clarifying expectations for each person’s role every so often; like every six months. It is also worth understanding fully what the work flows need to look like to achieve those expectations. Lastly, without clear expectations, it is almost impossible for anyone to bring their own integrated motivation to work with them.
How do you clarify expectations for your team and for yourself at work?