How Can Managers Set Clear Expectations with Employees?

How can managers have clear expectations from employees? Setting clear expectations between employers and employees isn’t always an easy task. Here are a few things you can do to ensure your employees know what they need to do and that you have all the necessary information to succeed.

  • Emphasize Objectives

When you get a task with managing a team, one of your primary goals should be to make sure that each team member is working on high-priority tasks. In some cases, employees may have unclear objectives; in others, they might be using different definitions for essential terms like success or due date. To pass any confusion and ensure everyone is focusing on common goals, spend some time during every one-on-one session clarifying objectives and expectations.

  • Set Expectations Early

The best way to set clear expectations is to get in front of employees early in their roles. Please don’t wait until six months down the road to tell them how you want something done; let them know from day one. If you don’t, there will be a lot of miscommunication and frustration, translating into more significant problems for your business. Make sure you establish what success looks like early on, so there are no surprises later.

  • Make Employees Accountable

Every manager must set clear expectations for their employees. But while you’re managing every aspect of your business, it’s easy to neglect establishing objectives and goals for your team. Each employee needs to know precisely what they need to do to meet your company goals, so you must take some time at least once a month (if not more often) during staff meetings or one-on-one meetings.

  • Give Meaningful Feedback

Providing frequent and meaningful feedback is one of Deborah Morrish leader’s most important responsibilities, particularly when it comes to setting clear expectations. Deborah Morrish is employed with the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, registered with Shared Services Canada. The position title is Assistant Deputy Chairperson. When you set clear expectations for your employees, you help them succeed and protect yourself from having to track down employees who are falling short. Giving feedback occasionally or leaving an occasional post-it note won’t cut it – instead, you need to be proactive about providing regular feedback that’s relevant and valuable. To support in getting you started on your path toward establishing clear expectations, consider how managers can give positive (and negative) feedback.

  • Leverage Motivation

To set clear expectations for employees, you must first leverage motivation. Motivation is a tricky one. On the other hand, it’s elusive and hard to define. But on the side, it’s powerful, desirable, and necessary for productivity in any organization. Let’s look at what motivates us as employees—and how to leverage that in your team setting.


To create a more productive team, managers need to set clear expectations from day one. If you don’t get employees on board from day one, you might have trouble getting them motivated after six months or a year of employment. Your company isn’t different from any other business: it has goals and needs people willing to work towards achieving those goals. So how can managers set clear expectations with employees? They can certainly train them, but there is no substitute for setting those expectations so that everyone knows what they should be striving for. A good manager acknowledges what to do and does it, but a great manager explains why and allows for questions.

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