The most important expectation to set is communication.
It can be tricky to put together a team that meets your expectations. Inevitably, there will be ways that individual team members and the group as a whole fall short. There will also be ways in which they succeed. You can increase the likelihood of the latter by communicating your expectations clearly.
Expectations for expectations
In setting and communicating expectations, there are a few best practices to follow. Expectations should have certain characteristics before you even begin to worry about communicating them.
Expectations should be measurable. Working in a team gives this a bit of a different meaning, however, than it would have if you were working alone. The measurability of an expectation depends on its visibility and accessibility.
In other words, your expectations should not depend on some lofty metric known only to you or the higher-ups in the team you are working with. Each person should be able to check in with themselves about how well they are meeting the expectations set for them; they shouldn’t have to wonder where the standard lies.
Communicating expectations can and often should be a tactful and diplomatic exercise. Based on your expectations, your team members will make judgments about their own abilities and yours. What your expectations are says something about what kind of leader you are.
Your expectations, and the way you communicate them, should indicate that you are well-researched and self-possessed enough to steer the team or business in the most productive direction based on market conditions and long-term goals.
As mentioned before, your expectations should also communicate your leadership style. Have you put yourself in the shoes of those whom you expect to meet those expectations? Have you made yourself available for questions and concerns about your expectations?
Expectations should also be a way for you to make your employees feel like they are working with your for a reason. Standards offer a sense of purpose, not because they demand productivity, but because they inspire it and even point it in the optimal direction.
Expectations as tools
Thus, expectations can be useful tools to develop your team members’ abilities and morale as well as your own leadership strategies. By communicating your expectations to your team, you display your belief in their value.
If you expect something of someone, it means that you believe they are capable of it. Not only that, but you are excited to work with them toward achieving your mutual goals, and to set further goals and expectations together in the future.
Perhaps most importantly, setting expectations opens up a dialogue. By communicating your expectations, you offer a platform for other to voice their own and to feel like they truly contribute to the discussion and to the health of your business. You will likely find that your team members have expectations of their own. Taking the initiative to establish yours fosters exponentially more productive communication.