How to Set Expectations That Set Your Team Up for Success- Part 2

The greatest gifts a leader can give their team is vision, clarity, and encouragement. Setting expectations and crafting rewarding goals are key to creating the right challenges that will motivate teams to live into their potential. A leader has many responsibilities. At the end of the day performance and getting the right work done is key to being an effective leader.
In Part 1 of this series, we explored how the science of motivation and human needs can be applied to setting expectations. In Part 2, you’ll learn 8 practical tips for creating goals with success.

1. Have a common framework for success

Teams need clarity on what they are to work on and why. Having an agreed upon process for how often (quarterly, twice a year, yearly or by release) and how goals are set, progress is updated, performance supported and success is measured creates certainty for employees. With this clarity and structure for their work, they can move forward to quickly solve complex challenges and innovate new solutions for your customers. If your company or team doesn’t have a set process, two of the most popular methods are OKR and V2MOM. If you choose one of these processes or another what is important is having a framework that easily helps every member in the organization understand how they are contributing to the mission, what’s expected of them, what the measurement of that expectation is, and how they will be held accountable.
  • Objectives & Key Result (OKR’s): The concept was invented at the Intel Corporation and is now widely used at many big technology companies like Google. OKRs set goals over a specified amount of time and provide a reference to how you will be evaluated in meeting your objectives. The objective details what is to be accomplished and the Key Results provided numeric measurements that will demonstrate that progress has been made.
  • Vision, Values, Methods, Obstacles, & Measures (V2MOM): The concept was invented at SalesForce and is meant to capture on one page how current goals support the companies vision. It provides clarities on the behaviors to be demonstrated and used for making decisions (values), actions taken to accomplish the vision (methods), the obstacles that may be encountered and the numerical SMART metrics to measure success.

2. Make SMARTER expectations

Too often we communicate general expectation. For example, we need to increase the quality of our product. Everyone can agree that quality is important, but what does that mean. This is where it’s important to be clear about our expectations and work to create SMARTER goals. A goal is clear when it is:
  • Specific
  • Measurable: as much as possible define the metrics to measure and what the change in the measurement would be if the goal was accomplished
  • Agreed Upon:  is it a goal that is agreed upon
  • Realistic: is it possible to achieve the goal, even if it’s a stretch
  • Time-bound: when will the outcome be accomplished by, when will updates occur
  • Engaging: does the goal motivate the employee (autonomy, mastery, purpose)
  • Rewarding: does the employee get rewarded for achieving the goal by gaining mastery or getting their needs of contribution and learning met

3. Set performance expectations on the what and not how the work is done

Good leaders clearly set expectations and detail outcomes, then they step back and provide their team autonomy to their team about how they do the work. This leaves space for uncertainty, creativity, and development for your team. Telling your team how puts you in the role of a micro-manager and slows their development. The how is a great place for you to trade your role of a manager in for that of a coach and mentor, helping each team member to find the way that’s best for them.

4. Set behavioral expectations

Every company has its own values and way of doing things. Part of this is an unwritten set of rules for how things should be done. This is an area of conversation that is often neglected. Leaders need to provide their team feedback on how they are being perceived and what behavior is expected of them. Be specific. If someone needs to be more of a team player, detail for them what the behaviors of a team player are and how you would know they are being a team player.

5. Gain agreement for engagement and success

    Once you have clarified your expectations and know your own manager’s expectations of your team and you, schedule time with your team. During the meeting spend time reviewing the company’s vision and how your expectations support progress towards the company mission. After the meeting ask each person to write SMARTER goals for their work.

    6. Get clarity on your team’s expectations of you

    Your team also has expectations of you. They need your encouragement and feedback. They may also need your help to move obstacles that are blocking them from accomplishing their goals. Before expectations are finalized, let your team know that you’d be interested to hear what expectations they have of you. This is a great opportunity to learn what concerns they have, how they need support, and how best to provide them support. Here are some questions you could ask.
    • To accomplish your goals, what support will you need from me
    • If you trusted me enough to tell me how to lead you most effectively, what tips would you give?
    • What kind of support do you need? How do you feel the most supported?
    • How do you like to be challenged? What can I say to you when you are “stuck” that will return you to action?

    7. Simplify and prioritize

    As leaders we can try to plan out the perfect project plan by mapping out each dependency, goal, and deadline; however, this is unrealistic. Business is complex with changing priorities, emerging opportunities, and urgent emergencies that compete for time. Remember this when you are setting expectations. Be very clear what outcomes you need to accomplish to support your group's mission. It’s tempting to have a list of 5 to 7 goals, try to reduce the list to 3-5 that will have the most impact. Once you’ve shortened the list help your team prioritize and remind them that urgent short term work isn’t more important than long term goals.

    8. Communicate often

    Before work starts agree how and when you will both communicate. Some options are weekly emails with status updates, routine operations reviews, weekly 1-1 meetings, daily stand-ups, and sprint reviews. There are many ways to cover project updates. Find the one that works the best for your team and you.

    Did you miss an article in the series? Go back and read Part 1 to learn how the science of motivation and human needs can be applied to setting expectations, or read Part 3 to learn 8 Questions to Ask Partners for Success.


    About the Author

    Kim-Elisha Proctor is an Executive Coach, teacher, and writer. For over 15 years, she has worked with companies at all stages of growth and understands the complexity of organizations and leadership that is needed for success. Whether one-on-one coaching, with groups or delivering leadership development programs, her passion is the same: to support leaders to enhance their performance, impact, purpose & well-being to create communities they long to belong to.

    Kim-ElishaLead Smarter