Setting Work Expectations
- Individuals and teams perform better when they have expectations.
- When work expectations are set appropriately and communicated clearly, job satisfaction increases, motivation improves, and there is increased acceptance of the performance management process.
- Setting work expectations consists of a series of conversations between the manager and employees that result in a plan of action and a description of the deliverables that will define success for individuals and for the workgroup.
- Translating City goals and Department business plans into work expectations that are meaningful for the workgroup
- Managers and individuals then draft individual work expectations that align with and support the goals of the workgroup
Conversations that result in understanding and agreement about what will be achieved, how it will be measured, and, at some level, how the work will get done.
Adopted from FYI for Performance Management by Eichinger, Ruyle and Lombardo
They are aligned with business strategies.
At each step down the line, the goals increase in specificity so they can be embraced and owned by that particular level.
There is agreement about what's to be achieved and how it's to be done.
Achieve this through collaborative work expectation setting. Managers who don't trust employees to help draft work expectations miss an opportunity.
There is a line of sight that enables employees to see how their achievements impact the organization.
Help them to see the big picture, to have a clear view up and down and across the organization
Work expectations and development goals are often related but are different; they should be addressed independently and individualized for the performer.
Create work expectations that focus specifically on accomplishments that will impact the business. Create distinct development goals to focus on what the employee will learn. Keep these independent to make it easier to coach employees and to review and appraise their performance
Work expectations are grounded in reality.
- Describe achievements that are within the control of the performer.
- To the extent possible, frontline workers should not have work expectations that are made or broken by the actions of another department, unit or the general economy. A Department Leader, on the other hand, has a role that is expected to foresee problems and create contingency plans
- The best work expectations rely on performance, not on external factors.
The specifics are nailed down.
- Describe what will be achieved with enough precision that, in the end, everyone readily agrees on the outcome.
- The required level of specificity depends on the maturity, capability, and level of responsibility of the performer. (More details at lower levels, for employees with less discretion; specific outcomes but fewer details about how the work expectation is to be accomplished at higher levels)
The results can be readily measured.
Choose performance standards for which measurement methods and processes exist, for which the cost of measurement is not prohibitive, and for which there is shared understanding of the meaning
There is stretch built into work expectations to extend the employee's reach and impact.
Set the bar high, but not completely out of reach.
Results to be achieved are noted clearly in written documentation.
- Work expectations should first and foremost describe accomplishment rather than activity. Keeping busy, even doing what seem to be the right things, won't much matter if the activity doesn't lead to desired results. Businesses are rewarded for what they deliver
- Make sure the documentation is readily accessible to the performer.
There are clear time frames and deadlines stated in work expectations.
Due dates provide focus.
For additional examples of work expectations, see Samples of Employee Work Expectations.
Last updated Jan 27, 2015