This is a very special time of year for our family. Tomorrow we celebrate our son Asher’s eighth birthday. But that’s not why it’s so special. We adopted Asher from the Philippines when he was four—four years ago—which means on this birthday, Asher will have lived with us longer than he has lived with anyone else.
Asher was the second child we adopted. Rex, who’s ten, came from the Philippines a few years before. And before that, my wife Colette and I had our only biological child, Asia, who’s now fourteen. We hadn’t planned on adopting when we got married, but sometimes life doesn’t turn out the way you expected. We ended up giving two orphans a home.
Which brings us to the purpose of this post—expectations. One of the reasons American workers are so disengaged is due to the lack of clear expectations at work. According to Gallup, only “6 in 10 U.S. employees strongly agree that they know what is expected of them at work.” And yet, as decades of research has shown, “Clear expectations are the most basic and fundamental employee need.”
If you don’t know what’s expected of you, how are you supposed to know what to do? How will you know when you’ve done it? How will you plan meaningful growth? Effective performance, goal setting, and meaningful development are pretty impossible without clear expectations. No wonder 67% of American employees feel unmotivated, disconnected, and aimless at work.
Managers may think their employees understand what’s expected of them, but that doesn’t mean their employees do. Managers may think their employees know what excellent performance looks like, but that doesn’t mean their employees do. And managers may think their employees know what their next steps of growth are, but that doesn’t mean their employees do.
Is this happening at your workplace?
At EnergyCAP, Inc., we’re going against the flow. We’ve rolled out an employee success program which seeks to clarify expectations. We want all of our employees to understand what’s expected of them, what great performance looks like, and how they can grow in meaningful ways.
To do this, we've established a unique role and outcome statement for each employee. Together the manager and employee have created two things:
Everyone from the CEO to the newest employee has a role and outcome statement, which are accessible to the whole organization. At any time any employee can see what any colleague is supposed to be producing. Making expectations clear has helped with purpose, accountability, evaluation, development, and management.
When I asked employees what this approach has done for them, they said:
“Better defines my specific job responsibilities”
“Organizes various areas of development”
“Helps me to better understand my role in the company”
“Gives me a clear career path at EnergyCAP”
“Places individuals into the best role to utilize their strengths”
There are many benefits of making expectations clear, but perhaps the best one is this—clear expectations provide a sense of belonging. When employees can say, "I know why I'm here," it's like giving them a home. Even if you didn't expect to.