How Do You Set Your Expectations for a Team

How to Set up Team Expectations | Setting Clear Expectations for Employees

Setting realistic and clear expectations for a team can make the workplace much more pleasant and team members more comfortable in doing their work. The problem is, managers sometimes do not know exactly what they can expect of team members. And that is because managers do not know exactly what needs to be done.

But they still go ahead and ask their team members to do unclear things only to find later that the results are not what they were expecting. The disconnect often causes team members to fail in delivering the right results leading to poor performance.

What are Team Expectations?

Team expectations are lists of things, goals, and behavior a manager builds up for the team members to achieve or demonstrate. The main reason a manager creates expectations for a team is to get everyone accountable for a specific outcome.

Setting wrong expectations or too many expectations often prevent team members from performing to their highest potential.

You don’t want to set expectations that hold your team members back. In other words, do not create a list of unrealistic tasks and then tell employees they are not meeting expectations. So, how do you set your expectations for a team?

Here are 10 Ways to Set Expectations for Your Team


1. Define Your Expectations

Sometimes employees fail to achieve goals or exhibit challenging behavior because the work expectations are not clearly defined or explained by the managers.

Goals are tasks that need to be achieved and the acceptable behavior team member must demonstrate while working towards the goals form the team expectations.

Often managers do not spend enough time explaining that to team members and they end up going for wrong or unclear expectations at work.

You must clearly define or explain your expectations to team members. And if there is any doubt of understanding, you may need to walk through the process so they can see what you want them to do.

Do not assume that you have explained everything well. Ask questions to confirm their understanding of what it is you want them to do.

Also Read: How to Demonstrate Honesty and Integrity in the Workplace

2. Don’t Assume Team Members Understand your Expectations

Before asking anyone to do something, you must know what needs to be done and then share it with team members with clarity.

Make sure you know the scope of the work including all aspects involved like people, budgets, milestones, time, and results. It is easy to assume that once you ask a team member to carry out a task, it will be done.

Assuming is often end up causing mistakes, because not always the task gets completed or done the way it is expected. The reason being, there was no clear communication between the manager and a team member about the scope of the work.

Sometimes your employee will nod when receiving instructions from the manager to confirm that you are talking. But that does not mean they understand what exactly you want them to do.

So, taking the time to be sure all team members are clear on expectations is the difference between success and failure.

3. Be Transparent About What You Know and Have

You may know the entire process of the work you are assigning your team members to do. So, it is much helpful if you walk through the process with the team members to ensure that they understand your end goal.

However, it may be possible that you understand the entire process. In that case, say what you do and do not know to give your team members a sense of ​​the challenges ahead.

Be more transparent. As a manager, you also have too much more information your team members may need to do the job. There is no point in you holding on to information or reveal only what you think is necessary.

So, let your employees have all the data that will assist them in doing the work and meet your expectations.

4. Show How to Measure your Expectations

When you are setting your expectations, make sure that your team members understand exactly how they will be assessed.

For example, a salesperson may be measured quantitatively based on the number of sales per month, whereas customer service personnel may be rated qualitatively based on monthly customer complaints.

You must have in place a way of measuring the performance and results of your expectations. The measurements are the key performance indicators or your expectations. Let your team members know beforehand, how you are going to measure their progress and success.

5. Set Realistic Expectations

Setting realistic expectations means they are achievable. Before you set the expectations, ensure that your team members have the knowledge, skills, and resources to carry out whatever you want them to do.

Ask for their input and make sure you monitor and update your expectations as necessary because circumstances change.

6. Set Expectations with Your Team

It is far too easy to give a one fits all instructions to your team members, detailing what you expect from each of them. But there is the potential that not every team member needs to meet the same set of expectations.

You must meet your team members and walk through the tasks to ensure that each of them understands what their roles are going to be to achieve the goal.

Read More: 10 Characteristics of an Ideal Work Environment

7. Write Down Your Expectations in Writing

Having a face to face meeting is one of the best ways of setting expectations with your team. However, giving them a takeaway document can serve as a continual reminder of what they need to be doing. It can be easy to forget the specific points of a conversation.

Detailing your expectations in writing can be a useful resource that team members can refer to as and when needed.

8. Set an Example

If you are enforcing rules in the workplace, it would be highly hypocritical for you not to adhere to them yourself. For example, managers who expect their team members to turn up to work on time, yet fail to do so themselves are not setting clear expectations.

The high standards you set in the workplace must be met by all, including the manager. Leading by example is one of the best ways to earn the trust and respect of your employees. Remember that team members look up to your behavior.

9. Ensure the Team Agrees to Your Expectations

It is vital that, aside from setting expectations for your team that they are agreeable to them. If they are not, they will likely fall short, and this can cause issues for you down the line, such as disciplinary meetings and difficult conversations.

Having a mutual commitment to achieving goals and behaving in a manner can go a long way. Your team will also see your commitment and use this to motivate them.

10. Don’t Set Too Many Expectations and Provide Support

You may have a clear idea of what you expect from your staff and how you want the result to look, but that doesn’t mean that overloading your team will yield the best results.

By setting too many expectations, you are likely to overload your team, and the possibility of failure will be high. Not only will this make your expectations more challenging to meet, but it can be a cause of stress in the workplace.

Also, once you have set your clear expectations for the team, helping them to meet them can be invaluable. If there are bottlenecks along the way, help the team and find a way to overcome the challenges.


Many things go into running a team, and this can prove something of a challenge when everyone is not on the same page. However, setting clear and concise expectations will go a long way in successful management.

It is unreasonable to expect your team to know what is on your mind and what they are meant to do without clear communication. Implementing some of these ways to set expectations for a team can make a noticeable difference.

You should ensure that you take the time to speak with individuals as well as trying to not overload the team with high expectations. All these combined will lead to a more productive, happier, and more understanding team.

Hopefully you find this article useful. How do you set up your team expectations?  Please, leave your thoughts in the comment section below

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