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How to Engage Your Employees by Setting Clear Expectations

"Trust is immediately broken when employees are called out on not meeting expectations that were not outlined."-Nancy Mae Simpson

How to engage your employees


One of the most important steps in how to engage your employees is to clearly define your expectations around job responsibilities and performance. Let them know what success looks like in their positions and they'll be able to focus on doing their jobs well because benchmarks have been set. In this article, I'll explain why clear expectations are so important for employee engagement, how to set them and what happens when they are not in place.

If You Have Clearly Defined Expectations Your Employees Will Be More Engaged

If expectations are clear, employees will be more engaged and productive because they will know what to do when they show up for work. They won't be frustrated by guessing what needs to happen or get caught up in the chaos of arguments with teammates who have differing opinions.

Framing baseline expectations with mapped out processes and standards, is a huge first step for putting success in your business on repeat.

As a Leader You Define the Scope

Every team needs agreements, guidance and rules to function. As a leader it is your job to communicate the how, why and what that defines the scope of projects. Providing direction and setting expectations is a necessary part of empowering your team, and is not at all the same as micromanaging. It is communicating and leading people so they can effectively do their jobs.

Similarly, acknowledging when your staff has met goals, especially when the job has been well done, is critical. It helps people recognize they aren't just going through the motions pointlessly in a vacuum and that their efforts matter. Positive reinforcement inspires progress and creates momentum.

What Happens When Clear Expectations Are Not Set?

On the opposite side, for employees who don't have clear direction to follow, their work day can feel like a murky stab in the dark where they don't really get the point of what they are being asked to do and live in fear of retribution for doing something wrong.

Mistakes, inconsistencies and frustration about being called out for failing to meet unknown expectations, become reasons why employees won't stay long to work for you. Conflict arises within the team and the workplace culture becomes chaotic. There is nothing in it for them besides a paycheck, and they are discouraged. No one wants to work for a business with impossible, invisible standards. Your company can expect really bad glassdoor reviews.

How Can You Avoid the Fallout?

Be clear and transparent from the beginning. Start with their job description and explain how their work fits into the bigger picture of your company's goals and vision. When employees understand what they are working toward and why it is important, they are significantly more motivated to do their jobs well because they understand their contribution to something meaningful and the company's goals as well.

If you are addressing performance, be sure that expectations were communicated and understood. Wrongly holding someone accountable for mistakes made because of steps they didn't know to take, kills trust and the rapport of working relationships instantly. You will lose respect, jeopardize your business reputation and see the churn of good people.


Remember that a powerful way to motivate your team is to set clear expectations and let them know what it looks like when they have succeeded in their work. Map out the structured processes that will assist them in achieving goals.

Engagement grows when employees understand why they are doing something, the way it needs to be done and how it contributes towards larger outcomes. When staff are held to standards backed by transparent, clear information, they will do their jobs better and be more motivated in producing the results you need from them.


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