GCE Strategic Consulting

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The Problem with Expectations as a Leader


The Problem with Expectations

The importance of expectation setting across the organization for sales leadership. we should address  the importance across all leadership or management roles.  As a consultant, I get to work with many different companies, and I see the good and bad decisions, processes, and management styles across each of these different organizations.  One item that pops up continuously is a lack from leaders setting clear expectations for employees. When leadership does not clearly communicate expectations to employees there can be many negative repercussions across the entire organization. According to the Harvard Business Review, the number one behavioral trap for leaders is failing to set proper expectations. This fundamental component of good leadership eludes those in leadership and management roles repeatedly.    

Categories and outcomes of negative habits

There are at least 4 categories of negative habits and repercussions that will appear in the workplace and with your employees.  

  • Lack of feedback - Employees, lacking feedback on the quality of their work, do not know how they can or if they should improve.
  • Management unhappy with results - Management suffers from an increased discontent with results - even though they do not clarify what results they want.
  • Culture breakdown - Goal and expectation ambiguity can lead to a breakdown in the company culture as employees work hard but may not be working smart, and don’t have the information they need to align their personal goals with company goals, and then, when provided with feedback that they aren’t reaching their goals, get frustrated and do whatever it takes to reach the goals, breaking down the very fiber you created your company with.
  • Increased legal exposure - Terminations from lack of expectations can result in increased legal exposure because expectations aren’t clear, people don’t know what is expected of them, and wrongful terminations suits may be introduced due to a lack of goal clarity.

 What’s the solution? How can you fix the problem with expectations?

2 simple ways to remedy the expectations problem

Provide clear goals for all employees - All people respond to structure and goals, so work with your leadership team to set clear goals with employees, and support their efforts as they work to reach them.  Schedule regular time for progress check-ins - Feedback is an important tool in resolving the problems with expectations, and providing role clarification is key. It is up to you to provide clear roles and responsibilities for your direct reports. To make sure things are going in the right direction, schedule weekly or bi-weekly check-in meetings. While often this is done to correct actions that go wrong, leaders forget to use these as opportunities to give positive reinforcement for things going well. What gets rewarded gets repeated, and  time with the CEO is a reward. If all you do is focus on the negative, you will get more negative. As the CEO and or owner of a company, it’s up to you to make sure all of these components come together to build a strong, efficient, culture of ongoing feedback. Need more structure? GCE Strategic Consulting is available to help you provide the structure and processes you need within your company to overcome the problem with expectations. Contact me directly at info@gcestrategicconsulting.com and let’s fix your problems with expectations.