It also gives a view of how well the manager and organization as a whole have fared in their actions.
If you look at performance management closely, it is all about managing expectations that managers have from employees and vice versa. Managers expect certain things to be done by their subordinates, and on the basis of whether they think the required goals have been achieved or not, they go ahead and give a rating. The employee, in turn, has some expectations from their managers, which can impact his level of productivity, engagement and professional commitment. What should be considered is how can both parties be aware of what the other is feeling, and address it in the most effective way possible, without hurting any sentiments.
What is expectation management?
“Expectation” is a heavy word. We all expect things from one another. Some are fair, some aren’t.
But what we do not realize is that expectation is a two-way street, just like trust. Expecting something from another person is going to be fruitful only when the other person also feels like they are valued. If an organization expects great work from its employees, it has to understand that those very employees also want certain conditions of theirs to be met on the company’s behalf. More often than not, these conditions go beyond just mere compensation. It is when these priorities meet that growth actually starts to take place.
Robust communication to the rescue
The reasons for failure in managing expectations can be unawareness, lack of interest, or worse – misunderstanding between the two stakeholders involved. The way to avoid all of these is frequent and quality communication.
Transparent and robust communication is often the solution to most problems related to expectation management. If an otherwise high performing employee seems disengaged, sit down with them and have a frank conversation about the changes in performance. Be empathetic and ask what has led to a negative change in productivity? Do this in a safe environment, encourage open communication, offer support and do all this in a non-threatening way.
Based on whatever problem you figure out during the communication, offer suggestions or advice to help counter that. For example, if someone is feeling a sense of burnout because of a change in management style, coach the concerned manager to offer the right support to the employee.
The powder of a one-on-one
Needless to say, the interest in exploring the real issues for a lack of optimal performance need to be genuine. There will be employees who might now be willing to open up about issues they are facing. Leaders need to proactively step in here and make a difference and offer an environment of psychological safety for them to be able to trust them with their problems.
Regular one-on-ones are important and they need to be treated like a responsibility, rather than a weekly task that needs to be ticked off a list. Everyone is hard pressed for time, but through such initiatives, employee engagement indices can actually take a positive spin.
There should be avenues for facilitating open conversations between managers and employees. Both parties need to know the agenda of the meeting, and the manager in particular needs to be well prepared with the set of questions. It is critical that managers make the most of these interactions, as they will play a crucial role in understanding what the employee is experiencing in the company.
Managing expectations both ways is probably the only way we can make relationships between employers and employees work. Start thinking about the gaps that exist in your organization when it comes to expectation management and how you can fill them up using the right technology, or maybe just through a conversation over a cup of coffee.