February 23


Do You Want the Good News or the Bad News First?

Setting Expectations

Have you ever gotten frustrated that your employees are not living up to your expectations? If you answered yes, I might have some bad news. Think about the expectations you are setting first before you look to the employees.

Here are some examples:
  1. An employee coming in late to work
  2. A participant late to a conference call or a meeting
  3. A direct report not being prepared for a meeting
  4. Expense reports not turned in on time
  5. Poor response time on emails and return phone calls

Example One

Coming in late is an interesting problem. New supervisors sometimes have a tendency to overlook it until one day it becomes a crisis. Then the supervisor is mad and then takes it out on the employee. The employee is wondering what the issue was since you never addressed it all the times before, so why is today such a big deal?

Think about it. You created the situation to allow it to happen. You have conflicting expectations. My advice is to address it immediately by asking “What happened “? Depending on the response, remind them when they are supposed to be at work. This is especially important if the person’s position is mission-critical to the operation or is client/student-facing.

There are also positions in the company that are not critical to being in at a specific time yet the work product must happen. For some people, flex hours may be the solution. Management is not a one-size-fits-all. My recommendation is to be fair and consistent.

Example Two

So what do you do when an employee is late to a call or meeting? Do you start the call or meeting on time? Or do you wait for everyone to arrive? Have you ever considered how disrespectful it is to those employees that arrived at the meeting on time and now they have to sit and wait? This costs money and is very frustrating to the employees. It sends the message why bother to show up on time because my supervisor will wait. Equally important is to end the meeting on time, because the participants may go back to work, or go to another meeting or call. My recommendation is to respect their time as much as you want your time respected.

Example Three

Have you ever expected someone on your team to be ready to report on the progress of an initiative and they weren’t ready? So think about the last meeting you held with this person, whether a group or one on one, did you clarify when the employee should be ready with a status update? Do you do that consistently in group meetings and one-on-ones with all employees? Or do you leave it open-ended for them to guess? Do you hold them accountable? Do you model this? What is your strategy for solving this problem?

Example Four

Nothing can be more frustrating than having an employee turn in an expense report after the month-end close. How can you keep this from happening? Explain the importance of recording the expense in the month it was incurred. Teach them a strategy to help them remember. I found myself early in my career getting into this habit that has helped me. Every Friday, I created a habit of completing my expense report and turning it in before I left the office, no matter what time. I did not have to worry about missing a deadline and taking up headspace worrying about it. My recommendation is to send an email reminder a few days before month-end. It will help build a new habit and reduce frustration and achieve timely expense submissions.

Example Five

Poor response time on emails and return phone calls can happen with employees and managers. First, does your company have a set expectation? My recommendation is to create one if your company does not have a set policy. For example, emails and phone calls should be responded to within 24 hours during the week and 72 hours over the weekend. I worked for a Fortune 100 company and this policy was in place. Once new employees and managers were introduced to the expectation, it worked.


The point of this blog is as a leader or manager, model the behavior. Set the expectations and teach them how to meet those expectations. Don’t ASSUME anything.


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