Avoiding Employee Problems: Setting Expectations

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Make sure your employees understand their duties and have the chance to communicate with you about their work.

Editor's note: Over the next few weeks we will run a series of five articles on avoiding employee problems. Check back frequently or search under the Articles>Stable Management tab at the top of the page.

Expectations work both ways between employer and employee. Not only does the owner of the business need to convey in clear, understandable language exactly what they expect from an employee’s performance, but the employee also must communicate what they expect as far as a work environment, compensation and recognition for their efforts.

Clarity Cultivates Success

Expectations from an employer can be written up as a handout to give to the employee. It also helps to have a verbal discussion about these expectations and ensure that the employee is willing to comply with the culture of your business. Certain features are common to most job conditions:

  • Be responsible, i.e. own your tasks and perform them without delay or excuses.
  • Be dependable and do what you say you are going to do.
  • Take initiative when appropriate.
  • Be ethical in all undertakings.
  • Have a positive attitude when you come to work.
  • Take pride in your work and meet deadlines.
  • Foster teamwork and cooperation with other employees and staff members.
  • Be respectful of other employees and clients.
  • Communicate concerns and ideas immediately to the employer rather than letting them fester to the point of resentment.

Additional expectations can enable better employer-employee communication:

  • Have regular discussions with an employee and affirm what is or isn’t working well.
  • Ask for honest feedback from the employee about what could be improved to maximize the comfort of the work culture.
  • Ask employees what work they prefer to do and how you can help to make their job more enjoyable.

Empathy and Recognition

In addition, every time a decision is made in a business, take a few steps back and try to look at it from the vantage of the employee. How would you feel walking in their shoes if this new idea was implemented? It is likely that at one time in your life you worked for others before you owned your business. This perspective can help avoid many employee problems before they begin.

Providing regular opportunities for feedback from employees to discuss your expectations and appreciation of their performance makes an employee feel valued while also enabling you to make corrections as needed.