Smart Strategies for Clarifying Workplace Expectations



You can save a lot of time and do your job better when you know what is expected of you. Clear communications about job requirements are good for both companies and their employees. Whether you’re an employee or the boss, try these methods to clarify workplace expectations.


If You’re a New Employee:

  1. Use your interview time well. Interviews are usually conducted in a limited amount of time so be sure to cover everything important. In addition to presenting your background and accomplishments, focus on the new position and how you can contribute.

  2. Read the job description. A comprehensive and precise job description is a valuable guide. Get familiar with the reporting relationships and opportunities for growth as well as the basic qualifications and responsibilities. Flesh out the details if anything seems vague.

  3. Study the handbook. Read your new employee handbook cover to cover. Pay attention to the tone as well as the text. Keep it on hand so you can refer to it whenever you have a question.

  4. Divide the orientation into multiple sessions. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you’re starting a new job. Breaking up the orientation over the course of the week may enable you to stay alert and absorb more information.

  5. Restate assignments. If you’re unsure what your supervisor is asking for, try repeating the assignment back to them.

If You’re the Boss:


  1. Go on retreat at least once a year. Retreats serve an important function. Put daily operations on hold to gather together for some planning and strategizing.

  2. Use a variety of instructional techniques. Orientation can be more than passive listening. Employees will learn better if you throw in some play-acting and discussion groups.

  3. Exchange feedback regularly. Avoid unpleasant surprises at the yearly employee evaluations by having supervisors and colleagues check in with each other regularly. Be open to constructive criticism and suggestions.

  4. Standardize tasks and evaluation criteria. Consistent standards help things to run smoothly. Develop templates for common tasks and measurements. Create timelines and checklists for frequently recurring events like board meetings and financial audits.

  5. Recognize good performance. People need to know what they’re doing well. Send out written acknowledgments of outstanding deeds. Pick an employee of the month.

  6. Publish the dress code. Business casual means different things to different people. Spell out polo shirts and khakis if t-shirts and jeans are too informal for your workplace.

  7. Articulate values. Talking about values gives everyone an opportunity to reflect on what they’re doing and why. Make the discussion ongoing. Establish your priorities in areas like customer service and environmental stewardship.

  8. Assign realistic workloads. Set expectations with existing resources in mind. As many workplaces reduce the number of employees, sustainable progress depends on setting goals that people can achieve and maintain over the long term.

  9. Strive to be inclusive. People generally work harder towards goals that they have a voice in developing. Involve employees in the process of drafting short and long-term goals and the steps it will take to become successful.

  10. Aim high. Ambitious expectations can fuel superior performance. Encourage everyone to dream big. Visualize what you would want your organization to look like in an ideal world.

You’ll feel more confident and productive when you figure out upfront what your job demands. Working together to get a clear picture of your roles lays the groundwork for developing a stronger and more effective team.


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