Create (and Manage) Expectations

How does creating and managing expectations help create a culture of contribution?   We will answer this question by taking a principle from customer service.   In the book, “50 Powerful Ideas You Can Use to Keep Your Customers” the author, Paul R. Timm, Ph.D, says that our expectations are “perceptual.”  They exist in our minds – and sometimes they are accurate and rational, but sometimes they aren’t.  When we are customers, we evaluate our service based on the entire experience – that goes beyond the core product or service purchased.  And guess what, our evaluation is based on our own expectations – did the service provider meet or exceed our expectations? (Paul R. Timm says that the key for gaining loyalty with our customers is not in meeting what the customer expects – but in exceeding it). 

Here’s the take-away. Your employees and staff members have expectations when they decide to work for your organization.  Part of your role as a leader, is to help your “customers” (your staff members) become engaged and committed and even “loyal” partners by constantly exceeding their expectations.  You want to go beyond what your staff anticipate or expect so that they feel positive and energized to go beyond what their job entails.  Here are some ways you can do this:

  • Make job expectations explicit. Clearly communicate the job requirements and how employees will be evaluated.
  • Provide frequent feedback for your team members so they know how they are doing in relation to the job expectations.
  • Recognize each employee’s efforts, especially those employees who excel and do work beyond what is expected
  • Get to know each staff member so that you can tailor your communication style to the individual
  • As you get to know each staff member, discover or learn what each one anticipates and expects from you as a manager – and if possible, over deliver
  • Review every “touch point” that your employee has with your department and find ways to deliver value (Some areas that you can look at include: how you orient a new employee, whether you are providing mentoring for new employees, what opportunities employees have to continue to learn and grow, the frequency of your one-on-one meetings with each employee, your consistency in providing performance feedback, recognition, etc.)

Perhaps you didn’t realize that your role as a leader has such a parallel to customer service. But your most important customer base isn’t those who purchase your products, it is those people who choose to work for you!  And being aware of the power of expectations can go a long way in ensuring your staff feels good about working for you and your team!

As we conclude this series, let’s review, the 7 ways you can create a culture of contribution in your work team, community association, church setting, or volunteer organization: 

  1. Hire the right people
  2. Engage your staff and your customers
  3. Enthusiastically promote others
  4. Offer benefits to be involved
  5. Recognize good work
  6. Reward contribution
  7. Create (and manage) expectations

Imagine the positive energy and productivity that you and your team could experience as you start to implement these steps to creating a culture of contribution!  So here’s my question, which one will you tackle first?