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5 reasons to set clear expectations at work- ps don’t wait for your boss!

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With over 13+ years experience leading people and a HR designation, I have heard and seen it all when it comes to interviews. I'm here to share my interviewing tips, guidance + perspective on prepping for your next job interview.

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Who said setting expectations was only for your boss?

I was recently reflecting on performance management in the workplace. I thought about the times I had witnessed leaders successfully lead their teams and the times I watched leaders completely crumble. Now, I’m not saying the leaders who crumbled were awful people; they just weren’t strong when it came to one main thing, setting clear expectations.

And yes, a large part of being a leader is holding your team accountable BUT FIRST, having clear expectations is a must. 

If I don’t know what good or great looks like AND what’s expected of me, it’s like shooting in the dark. It’s like reading minds. Am I right?

But let’s be honest. Setting expectations is not just for your boss. Setting expectations is equally important for team members and employees with their manager. We all need to rely on one another to get the work done, and knowing how and what is required is crucial to being a successful team and team member.

While working at lululemon, one of my peers, Cristin, had a brilliant idea. When she brought new employees to her team, she would share a one-pager about herself, including her expectations of her team members. And then, in return, she would have conversations in their 1:1s to understand what they expected of her as their leader. 

The one-pager included some of the following:

  • What you can count on me for:
  • What I need to rely on you for:
  • What gets me out of bed every morning?
  • Team expectations such as:
    • How we communicate
    • How we manage our time
    • How we lead our people and one another
    • Weekly meetings
  • Quarterly Focus/Goals
  • Yearly Focus/Goals

Wouldn’t it be awesome to do this with our peers as well?! Everyone would know what we expect of one another, and in theory, we’d communicate better. We’d know when we need to follow up with someone. We’d know when it was appropriate to call out a peer if they didn’t get back to us. We’d work efficiently. Ahhh, the possibilities!

So don’t wait for your boss to lead the way in setting expectations if they haven’t already.  I really encourage you to do it now!

To give you a little nudge setting expectations and to have these conversations with your employees, your peers and your leader, here are my top 5 reasons why setting expectations will make your life at work more enjoyable.

  1. Setting expectations creates an opportunity for more effective communication. 

When we talk, it allows us to gain alignment. I understand you; you understand me. The conversation ultimately forces dialogue to help one another feel understood. And if nothing is left unsaid, there should be little to no surprises on what is expected.

  1. Setting expectations builds relationships.

Effective communication through setting expectations helps create stronger relationships.The conversation brings awareness to what’s important to us. When we know and honour what’s important to others, it builds trust.

  1. Setting expectations allows for clarity. 

It eliminates confusion and the question, “why are we doing this?!” Time will be saved because we’ll know the WHY and the HOW behind the work we’re accomplishing. When we’re clear on the task at hand, we know where there is room to play and where we may need to ask for help. Which leads perfectly into point #4.

  1. Setting expectations allows for greater results. 

We’ll achieve more significant results because we’ll have more confidence in our direction. I can be more consistent with my work and I’ll rarely be assuming. 

How refreshing because you know what they say, “To assume makes an ass out of you and me.” 

  1. Setting expectations assigns accountability. 

We’ll work more productivity because we’ll be on the same page. Or we’ll find out we’re not on the same page and then dive into how to tackle the problem together. I’ll know what my piece of the pie is and what is yours. No duplication of work and no questions about who’s who in the zoo.

Alright, how are you feeling? Are you ready to set expectations with the people you work with?

Let me know in the comments below if you’re going to try this out. I would say good luck, but I know you don’t need it!

For additional career tips or interview prep resources, check out other blog posts like, It’s time to make your own rules for interviewing.

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LOVER OF FLOWERS, GREETING CARDS, HOT SAUCE AND WHITE TEES. LIBRA, ENNEAGRAM 3 AND FIRM BELIEVER THAT ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

Hi, I'm Jenna.
Your new career and interview prep coach.

I'm incredibly passionate about supporting people to walk into their job interviews with confidence. With 13+ years experience leading people and a HR designation, I have heard and seen it all when it comes to interviews.

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