When I hear managers discuss their low talent employees who don’t perform the first thing that comes to my mind is why haven’t they been fired? The second thing I think is maybe the expectations are not properly being set.

Expectation setting is key in any role. Whether you manage a Fortune 500 Company or a Yogurt store, setting and managing expectations is one of the most important aspects of people management. Without expectations people will run wild. With expectations you set guidelines that allow people to operate within to be successful.

Consider these simple rules for expectation setting:


If you are consistent in your expectations with all your employees then everyone on staff will begin to get in line. You must be consistent not only with the expectations that you set but you also must show consistency with the disciplinary actions that follow breaking or not achieving those expectations. The bar you set for Sue must be the same for her peer Jim. Without consistent expectations the staff will begin to think they have their own set of rules and that what applies to their peer does not apply to them. In an inconsistent world of expectations the manager then is forced to enforce the expectations differently.

Keep in mind that every employee is different and there is no model for the universal staff. However he expectation of success, not the individual goals, can be consistent. Think about each sales person, they may have different goals, but your expectation is that they will each make their goals tailored for them.

If you allow Sue to achieve her goal at 80% then you must allow Jim to skate by at the same rate. The expectation is consistent.


Expectations have to be realistic and achievable. If your expectation is the staff works 40 hours per week then great. If your expectation is they all work 80 hours then you are setting an unachievable and unrealistic expectation. You just find the balance between achievable and realistic with your staff.

Unrealistic expectations set the bar at a level that your staff will automatically not strive for because it’s unreachable. If we are asked to run a mile in less than 5 minutes we won’t even attempt it, if it’s less than 12 minutes we know we can probably achieve that goal and we will make an attempt.

In closing, your level of expectations that you set will determine the respect level your staff has for you. If you are fair, realistic and consistent then your staff will in return work at a pace that will achieve your goals. Without these rules, you can consider your companies goals unrealistic and therefore unattainable by the people you need to get you there.

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