Do you know what your employees expect of their jobs, their manager, or the business as a whole? And if you do know (or think you know), are you doing anything in your leadership position within the organisation to actively manage employee expectations?
Employee expectations are often a major headache for managers, especially those with the old-fashioned mindset that employees should be happy with whatever their job is giving them. Unaddressed employee expectations lead to reduced morale in the workplace and lower employee engagement.
If your employee expectations haven’t caused any noticeable problems in your workplace so far, no one can really blame you for adopting an “if-it’s-not-broken-don’t-fix-it” attitude. But keep in mind that what you can’t see, or choose not to see, can rear its ugly head one day, so heads up!
Below are measures you can take to meet your employee expectations, now and in the future:
Clearly define the role of each employee
From the very first job interview to their first day at work, you should be direct and honest with the employee about the responsibilities and challenges their job comes with. Discuss in detail the physical and/or mental demands, the work environment and potential stressors they should be prepare for.
Tell the employee exactly what you expect and reiterate these expectations several times throughout the orientation and on-boarding process.
You should also have these conversations when the employee is assuming a new position in the company, whether it be a promotion or lateral move, to set those new employee expectations. Also encourage the employee to ask questions about anything and everything.
Connect them with the company culture
In order to effectively set and manage employee expectations in the workplace, you must help the employee understand what part they play in the organisation as a whole.
Improve your employee engagement in less than two minutes
Don’t just show them the company’s mission statement – explain why it’s important to you and your team. Discuss the company culture in depth, focusing on the employee’s specific role within the company as a whole and the team in particular and how your employee expectations fit in the overall mission of the company.
Create opportunities for new employees to integrate with the company culture and bond with their team members both inside and outside of work.
For example, schedule a team outing within the first week or two of the employee starting, it can be something as simple as getting pizza together. This can help the employee get a better understanding of the dynamic of the team and how they will fit in.
Help them become better
Your employees want to be challenged and be improved. They want to be given the trust, respect and responsibility for taking their own decisions. They want more control over their careers, so tying them down to a cubicle or micromanaging them will simply demoralise them, and they will likely leave.
A 2016 study by the Association for Talent Development found that organisations that develop their people boast an incredible 218 percent higher income per employee, and a 24 percent higher profit margin, than those that don’t.
So make sure to create opportunities for your employees to develop their skills more such as supporting their further studies or regularly sending them to industry conferences.
Managers are often wary of making work more flexible for employees because they fear they will lose control of their teams but with the latest trends in human resource management, this simply isn’t the right way of thinking anymore.
Besides, people respond very well to increased autonomy: a study of almost 1,400 employees and managers in the U.K. revealed that 54 percent of workers felt productive through flexible working, and 75 percent felt more satisfied in their roles.
More and more people today don’t want to feel like they are failing at work because they have children to take care of, or need a more convenient working schedule.
A 2014 YouGov/McCann poll of U.K. workers found that most of those aged 35 to 44 rated work-life balance more important than salary.
Appreciate and recognise them more
Always make it a point to show your appreciation to your team members, especially when they have gone the extra mile for you or their colleagues, or have delivered excellent performance.
Remember it’s a virtuous circle: if your team members know that their hard work or great ideas are appreciated and rewarded, even if it’s with a simple “thank you,” then they will continue to give you their best.
Quit being shady, be more transparent
Employees want to get to know you. They want to work for a company whose values match their own.
Times are uncertain, and fast-moving, so it’s never been more vital to keep your employees informed and reassured. You don’t want a fractured team or office air thick with tension. Honesty and open communication will lead to trust, and trust will help you unearth and solve problems much quicker.
Create room for more involvement and creativity
Employees want the chance to express themselves creatively. They want a connection to what your organisation is doing, so involve them.
Make it less about rules, and more about shared goals and vision. And it pay off big time! When Google ran its 20 Percent Time scheme for employees – allowing one day per week to be spent on side projects – it resulted in the creation of Gmail, Adsense and Google Maps.
Be friendly but within professional boundaries
As a manager it important to develop and nurture a personal connection with your employees as this can go a long way in motivating them to work harder, understanding their issues when they are underperforming and resolving conflicts between them when they naturally arise.
However, you must be careful to maintain professional boundaries at all times such that no employee ever feels that they or others have an unfair sway in your decision making.
Furthermore, it is important to keep things professional in order to avoid any abuse of power that could easily arise from getting too close to an employee, especially romantically.
Employee expectations often go unaddressed in many organisations and yet employees are the most valuable asset in every one of them.
Managers need to take more deliberate and regular steps to understand and cater to their employee expectations in order to achieve success in their roles.