Advice for When You Apply These Ideas

Remember this advice when you're creating and sharing your clear expectations.

Once you’ve created your clear expectations, make sure your team sees them on a regular basis. Put them into documentation the team can refer to regularly, post the rubric (if you’ve made one) for each expectation, reference the expectations as part of your regular 1:1s with each employee, and so on. Ideally, work with your HR partners to have these expectations be a part of the job description (the one posted to the Careers page of your company’s website or on job sites like LinkedIn) so that incoming candidates know the expectations for the role from the very beginning. (Having clear expectations is going to help immensely with interviewing candidates, too, but that is the subject of a different course.)

Wherever they end up, remember this: “Document, document, document.” Not only will it make it easier on you—try juggling seven different sets of expectations and goals in your head and you’ll quickly see the value of writing it down!—but also it will help identify any gaps in your shared understanding. As a bonus, it acts as a written record that stays with the employee. When you leave your current seat running this team, somebody else will step in. If that new manager is going to have any reasonable chance of success in their first performance review with their new team, they need to know the goals and standard(s) against which your team was measuring themselves all along. (We’ll talk more about succession planning in another course.)

Periodically review these expectations to make sure they’re still relevant. Personally, I recommend reviewing the expectations with your employees as part of their performance review, as a way to get their buy-in for the next performance review cycle. If your employees disagree strongly with the expectations, it’s important to hear their concerns and look for ways to reconcile the differences and/or adjust the expectations as necessary. Review them with your peers—both those inside the company and those from the outside—to see what other teams are doing and expecting. Review them with your boss, too, so that your boss is aware of, and can provide support for, the decisions you’re making or can provide suggestions to bring your thinking more in line with the rest of the company’s.

Remember, a building’s longevity rests in its foundation, and the foundation of a successful performance review program is in the expectations you set for the team. All the performance improvement plans or promises of promotion in the world won’t mean a thing if your team members don’t know by what standard they’re being measured. Your own performance will be measured in large part by theirs, so giving them the best tools to succeed will help you do so as well.

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