These first few months are crucial to setting a standard and expectation of performance. The best you ever see an employee is during the job interview then after they are hired it can easily slide downhill from there, unless you set clear expectations and standards. I highly recommend that each new employee be placed on a three-month probationary period. This provides them with the opportunity to demonstrate their skills, capabilities, and competencies. At the end of the probationary period a decision is made to extend permanent employment or dismiss them.
If you make a decision to extend a permanent position to them I recommend a formal performance evaluation to review their performance, areas where of improvement is needed, and then a plan for improvement is agreed upon and signed by the employer and employee.
Setting Expectations = Leadership
Employees want to do a good job and they also want control over their job – which is in alignment with the expectations of every business owner. Work provides a number of rewards for the employee including self-esteem, structure, and pride of a job well done. Your employees will rise to meet your expectations whatever they happen to be. Not being clear of your expectations is the same as delegating the leadership and control of your corporation to the employee(s). Setting of expectations is the single most important leadership principle to practice especially if you ever expect to manage and operate your business without you having to be present ‘to keep an eye on things’.
The Psychology of Setting Expectations
Meeting your expectations will drive an employee to grow, expand their knowledge, skills, and cause them to pay close attention to the details that you care about (read expectations) if you clearly define what you expect them to achieve.
Without setting expectations they will get comfortable and complacent. The longer an employee is on your payroll the greater the chance for entitlement, complacency, and contentment. Their performance may actually be pretty good, answer these questions:
- Could they do better?
- Are you tapping into their full potential?
- How would they benefit when their performance improves?
- How would your company benefit?
- How would you as owner benefit?
If you want to inspire excellence and move beyond ‘good to great’ you must tap into their hidden, untapped potential. You do this by setting expectations and that is leadership.
Leadership sets the tone, standards, and is a good predictor of business growth because to the degree that your employees and you are able to grow so goes your business. The current business and competitive environment demands innovation and creativity that is why the growth of your business is tied directly to your personal and professional development and that of your staff.
High growth individuals will thrive on meeting and exceeding your expectations because it gives them the opportunity for personal achievement and growth. This is the ideal employee because their own personal internal standards drive them to excel which is a prerequisite if you want to become a remote-control CEO and have the business work for you instead of you working in the business.
Initially, you might get some ‘push back’ especially from long-term employees because you are pushing them outside the ‘comfort zone’ you had a hand in creating. Do not apologize for making changes or pushing them to achieve their personal best – appeal to their noble characteristics, qualities, and morals.
As employees ‘buy’ into meeting your expectations they transition from needing to be managed to being self-motivated and self-directed. Then all you need to do to manage them is to continuously review their performance and set new expectations.
Examples of Expectations
- Customer Satisfaction: resolution of customer concerns.
- Set a Quality Standard: A low incidence of redo, repair or rework.
- Personal Productivity: Efficient use and management of time.
- Behavior and Deportment: conduct themselves with professionalism; your standard can be either formal or informal depending on your environment and culture.
- Systems, Policies: Use of specific company Systems and compliance with company policies.
- Problem Solving: Using creativity in problem solving and design.
- Planning: Ability to plan projects and tasks
- Use of Time: Monitor Time Spent versus Time Budgeted
- Communication: Have excellent oral and written communication skills including listening, and getting their own points across.
- Personal Initiative: They show personal initiative to solve a problem before coming to you seeking a solution. That they are able to tell you what they have done to solve the problem and why they need your help.
- Technical Skills: be as specific as you can in the standards and performance you expect from them for example, specify the conventions you expect them to follow, how you expect them to remain current with technology. Institute a regular meeting to research, review, and discuss technology in your industry with any eye to upcoming trends.
- Job Description and Performance: create a job description that ties together all your expectations of workplace behavior, responsibilities, and performance.
- Performance Review: set regular dates for a formal performance review, compensation, and benefits.