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Managing Expectations: Which of Your Managers Do It Best on 4/26/2017


Many organizations have employees who don’t understand what is expected of them.  This lack of clarity leads to decreases in productivity and morale. It is a manager’s responsibility to provide a clear vision of what is expected of their employees.  

Gallup’s State of the American Manager Survey points out:  

Clarity of expectations is perhaps the most basic of employee needs and is vital to performance. Helping employees understand their responsibilities may seem like "Management 101," but employees need more than a written job description to fully grasp their role. They need to completely comprehend what they should be doing and how their work fits in with everyone else’s work — especially when circumstances change. Great managers don’t just tell employees what’s expected of them and leave it at that; they frequently talk with employees about their responsibilities and progress. They don’t save those critical conversations for once-a-year performance reviews.

How do human resources professionals understand which managers in their organizations struggle to provide the clarity that is critical to success? It is important to note that there is no foolproof way to determine how proficiently managers communicate employee expectations. But some reports and observations can provide clues that management clarity is deficient. One report that can provide some clues is the Gap Analysis report.

The Gap Analysis report is a simple report that shows the difference between what score the manager gave an employee and the employee’s self-appraisal score. The logic is that if the employee appraised himself as a five, and the manager appraised the employee at a two, the difference would be three. The math is very basic, but the insight can be invaluable. Small differences in those two numbers seem to indicate the manager and the employee are in agreement about expectations. Large differences between the manager and employee appraisal scores suggest the employee’s expectations have differed from the managers.  

identify managers that need training

The orange column is sorted by employees with the largest gaps. Based on the above, the HR Manager may want to reach out to Scott McMaster to better understand his communication style and make recommendations for adjustments.

What’s a reasonable difference between the manager’s score and an employee’s self-appraisal score? Keep in mind that many employees appraise themselves higher than the manager’s score. It is a common occurrence. To offset that variance, use historical trends and your knowledge of your managers to determine what a healthy gap is for your organization.  

Conversations that HR has with managers about their ability to communicate expectations to their team should always include a discussion about holding regular coaching sessions. Coaching sessions should be a time to confirm that the employee has documented SMART goals and any necessary action steps or feedback notes from the manager, which should be updated regularly. To learn more about best practices for ongoing coaching and feedback, click here to read about the importance of measuring employee competencies.

Questions? Would you like to share your ideas with us on this topic?  

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