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What Do You Expect?

A recent Gallup poll found that only 33% of U.S. employees had a clear understanding of what was expected of them.


John Passante is a broad-based senior executive with over 30 years of extensive organizational development and senior human resource experience with progressive corporations involved in multiple locations, both domestic and international.

As we begin a new and (hopefully) exciting, positive 2022, it is the perfect time to establish business leadership objectives. Permit a probe: are you clear on your company’s performance objectives? Expectations serve as a barometer for the focus and growth of the organization. It is paramount to communicate clear performance expectations to employees at all levels in clear and precise terms. A good start is:

  • Make the objectives and expectations clear to yourself;
  • Ensure that expectations are observable and measurable;
  • Put the expectations in writing;
  • Share with employees and seek candid professional feedback;
  • Mutually agreed upon expectations enhance performance and employee commitment; and
  • Provide continuous, meaningful feedback.

Put yourself in the employee’s shoes and consider how to motivate them. The facts are, at times, we have all glossed over the importance of clear employee expectations and their impact on employees. Setting clear expectations can eliminate disappointment and confusion, increasing employee performance and organizational success. Expectations are critical in employee retention. Employees want to see the big picture and understand their important role.


Roll this around in your mind: a recent Gallup poll found that only 33% of U.S. employees had a clear understanding of what was expected of them. Indeed, employees are less engaged and motivated when they are not clear on what is expected of them. Become a dealer in HOPE: Have Only Positive Expectations. High, positive employee expectations with leadership support increases performance and morale and instills pride!

A guide to communicating your expectations:

  • Outline your expectations;
  • Do not assume that the employee may want more details;
  • Stress the importance of your expectations (the why);
  • Follow-up;
  • Hold yourself and employees accountable;
  • Communicate the purpose of your expectations;
  • Team people to support your efforts to communicate more cleanly; and
  • Celebrate success.

Communicating clear expectations is a critical element in determining KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and is vital to the success of your organization. Clear expectations and KPIs:

  • Track and measure progress;
  • Provide a tool for performance feedback;
  • A tool for making needed adjustments;
  • Lead to new opportunities;
  • Communicate critical success factors;
  • Company strategy & vision;
  • Challenges; and
  • Growth opportunities.

Clear and concise performance KPIs aid in the alignment of a shared mission between the leader and the associate, define it as a two-way process, and improves understanding and trust. Information and knowledge enhance employee buy-in. It is important to tailor your process and approach to the needs of each associate, which opens the door to professional growth. Expectations define what success looks like. Ensure that you are explicit in your communications.


In this hurry-up world, take the time to celebrate successes, both large and small. The shared experience of the past two years has taught us many lessons. Clearly, associates (employees) want more involvement and a voice in the mission of the organization and expect current and consistent communication and feedback. Meaningful work and associate involvement improve motivation and associate retention. An engaged workforce is a strong competitive advantage.



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