Do You Set Clear, Achievable Expectations?

Many years ago, I sat down in front of my boss at a very large corporation for my annual review.   It did not go well. I was blindsided.    

I sat there listening to a litany of things that I did not do, effort that I did not exert and initiative that I did not show.  Ouch!   But there were two problems with this verbal surprise:

  1. Most of the expectations I heard about were new to me.
  2. My boss’s opinion of my performance was a BIG surprise to me.

There are two lessons to learn here:

  1. Make your expectations very clear – from the outset and during the term/work/project
  2. If someone is not performing to expectations, make your view very clear as soon as you can.

My boss had not set or revisited any expectations with me, achievable or otherwise, over the past six months.  (The truth is, he hardly spoke to me.)  As a result, in my opinion, he did not have the right to claim ‘poor performance’.

As a leader or manager, you are equally responsible for your team member’s performance, as they are.

Your team needs a set of clear expectations and objectives laid out for them and reviewed on a regular basis – not just annually.

It sounds easy but we all know it can be very difficult.  It takes planning and extra time, but it is critical for everyone involved. Sometimes we are moving way too fast to not only plan too far ahead, but to bring others into the plan as well.  These days I find myself in that exact position – moving so fast we are unable to plan too far ahead, let alone bring others on board and moving in the same direction with clear objectives and expectations.

moving so fast we are unable to plan too far ahead, let alone bring others

I was reading a blog post on about this topic. ( The author sets up 5 steps to setting expectations for your team:

  • Provide structure: clear boundaries, clear scope of work
  • Clarify roles: Job descriptions and duties
  • Set Goals: short, medium and long term – and achievable
  • Give and receive feedback: all along the way – not just annually

So, ask yourself, or better yet, ask your team members if they feel they have a clear set of expectations from you.

If not – you probably have time to fix it.

Do You Set Clear, Achievable Expectations?


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1 thought on “Do You Set Clear, Achievable Expectations?”

  1. As part of setting goals/expectations – ensure you clearly lay out what you need from your boss in support of them.

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