Research shows that people who have clearly defined, well-communicated expectations, find more satisfaction and success in their work than people whose expectations go unspoken or unrealized.
Expectations are important. Work expectations are those things you consider likely to happen in your job situation, either now or in the future. Whether spoken or unspoken, expectations are the drivers of attitudes, impacting thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Attitudes in turn influence performance, commitment, and job satisfaction.
In my experience, expectations are usually mentioned in the context of what nurse managers expect from employees but not of what employees expect from them. It is important for managers to have conversations about what they expect of employees but also to discover what the employees are expecting. Having conversations is key.
If employees are simply told what is expected of them without being able to express their hopes of the manager and the work environment in general, this can lead to dissatisfaction for the employee.
Take advantage of your staff meeting. Start by explaining your expectations are and ask them for what they want from you. This is a natural conversation for a new manager to have but it is equally important for a veteran manager as well.
Word of caution. If you have one or more employees who are not meeting your expectations, presenting in a staff meeting will not solve the problem. It is likely that person will be the one who does not get they are a performance problem. Meeting individually with the employee is the best way of communicating your concerns. Your star performers will ask if they did something wrong but the one who was the intended recipient will not.
Expectations from Effective Managers
Managers should keep the following points in mind:
- Expectations are job-related
- Expectations are achievable
- Expectations have been communicated in advance
- Expectations are not a threat to personal safety or require actions that are unethical or compromising
- Expectations are consistently enforced.
The following times present opportunities for managers to have a conversation about expectations.
- During interviews
- Coaching staff
- During major changes
- Evaluation time
Be Clear and Direct
Often managers say they have explained their expectations well. But what seems to happen is that the explanations are not clear or direct enough for the employee to get the picture. Some examples of expectations are:
- how employees should treat each other, teamwork
- seeing someone struggling and offering to help
- offering solutions to problems
- confronting negative behavior
- being a patient advocate
The list can be lengthy but does not have to be. Just so employees understand the group norms and what type of work atmosphere you want.
Ask them if they agree with these and if they will be able to comply. If so, explain which ones are non-negotiable and why. Often understanding the rationale and given the opportunity to voice concerns about the expectations makes acceptance easier. It is equally important for employees to explain to the manager what they want and need from a manager.
Having a conversation about what type of work environment you as the manager and your employees want, help reaching that outcome more likely. Sharing beliefs, values, and ideas about patient care brings engagement and understanding of the bigger goal.
Colleagues must know what you expect of them. Be the example. You are much more credible if you are doing what you are asking of others. The behaviors you demonstrate and those you don’t reinforces what you expect of everyone.
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