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Seven rules of engagement for successfully managing expectations in your business

So how come so very few managers ever sit down and properly discuss the finer details of how they work together for real success

In the real world, the need to manage expectations usually becomes blindingly obvious only after a gap has come to light. This gap can arise because assumptions are made that were on the same page when were not ; that someone has briefed me when they havent or when someone thinks it’s obvious when it isnt.

As soon as you sense the gap, theres a feeling that you dont quite trust the person as much as you used to. Heres an example:

Sarah and Ali worked together well for two years as peers. When Sarah was promoted to line manager, the relationships between them shifted. She had trouble finding the balance of being friendly and being the boss.

Affected by tension between them, Alis performance fell off noticeably. Sarah moved from being a co-operative peer to being a bossy boss. Each thought the issue lay with the other person. Trust was strained and working together was difficult.

Conflict like this arises between individuals who have differing expectations for each other and this can happen whether or not a shift in role is experienced. If clarity is not achieved, relationships and performance can be affected long term unless something stops the rot.

By sitting down and agreeing rules of engagement Sarah and Ali could discuss and agree how to work well together, in the new set up.

Its often not noticed beforehand. When rules of engagement become strained, it shows in the interactions and conversations, which may shift from being friendly and cooperative, to abrupt and defensive.

Read more on management:

Its not unreasonable that managers have expectations of employees; the job and its requirements will have been discussed in depth at interview. These may change over time in the job.

However, the level of specificity is seldom detailed, which leads to gaps in understanding and expectations between both manager and employee.

What is unreasonable is, when employees are left to guess, to read the managers mind (good luck with that one!) or at worst, to find out by accident or when things go badly wrong.

In todays workplace good people-managers will sit down and personally discuss with every member of their team. The questions below can easily be woven into regular interim review conversations, appraisals and inductions.

The focus of the conversation is NOT about job tasks or the job description; rather it is about how you both work together to clarify priorities, to achieve desired levels of performance and what to do when things go wrong.

You need to explain what you need and expect from them and why, and what they can expect from you.

Continue reading on the next page for seven tips on how to set up a healthy rules of engagement agreement, and eight assumptions to avoid when working with others expectations.


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