Work Expectations!

Do you know exactly what is expected of you at work?

The extent to which you can agree with this statement is one of the key predictors of employee engagement.

If these expectations have not already been discussed and made explicit, book a one on one meeting as soon as possible with your manager to discuss and agree the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Projects you will be accountable for in your role.

In particular, what numbers do you need to achieve on a weekly or monthly basis that signify you are “doing a good job”?

Is it realistic?

This part is vitally important. Is the performance standard achievable? If not, you need to speak up and negotiate with your manager to agree performance targets you can both live with.

In my experience managers tend to set Goals too high, thinking that this will motivate their people, when in fact it has the opposite effect. When people don’t think they can achieve the expected level of performance with a reasonable amount of effort, they quickly become discouraged and demotivated, and feel like failures. That’s certainly no way to engage your people!

Research on employee motivation has shown that it is better to set relevant and achievable goals and get everyone used to “winning” and then gradually raise the performance bar over time. People are strongly motivated by seeing the progress they are making every week, so it also helps to make this progress visible on a dashboard, and praise and acknowledge them for their contribution. As a manager, you want everyone to go home at the end of the week with a smile on their face, knowing that, “I had a good week”, rather than feeling like a failure with their KPIs “in the red”.

My rule of thumb, is that “a competent person doing an honest week’s work”, should be able to achieve or beat the KPI performance standard 9 times out of 10. If not, the bar is set too high.

The same principle applies with any Projects or Tasks you have been assigned. Assuming you have the appropriate training, support and resources to do the job, the due dates should be realistically achievable, and not just based on an optimistic best-case scenario.

Let’s face it, “stuff” happens. Nothing goes exactly as planned. There are always unforeseen delays, disruptions and scheduling issues. As a manager, I’d rather have my team members give me a completion date I can count on, than a date that someone is not fully committed to honouring. Otherwise we are both deluding ourselves and setting ourselves up for failure.

Set yourself up for success.

Don’t make the mistake of slavishly agreeing with unrealistic KPI targets or Project and Task deadlines just to please your manager. You might please them in the short term by accepting their unrealistic expectations, but you are only postponing the inevitable disappointment for everyone down the track.

I appreciate that it takes courage to speak up and negotiate your Goals and Tasks with your manager. You can either suffer in silence, or speak up and negotiate outcomes that everyone can live with and that you are willing to be held accountable for.

Act with integrity and dignity. I can’t promise that you will get everything that you want, but if you don’t ask you certainly won’t get.