Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Teams: Setting Expectations

I probably got the proverbial "cart ahead of the horse" yesterday when I wrote about people problems and referenced expectations without actually having written something about expectations.

Leaders set the expectations. What are expectations? The behaviors, the values, and the ethics of the team. Teams need these to foster morale and smooth functioning. They are a reflection of the leader and the operating environment of the team.

Two important things to consider. Expectations should be clear and everyone needs to know them. Do they need to be written? Not necessarily as long as they are understood by everyone.

The second thing is--the leader needs to live the expectations and expect the team to also live the expectations. It is not a matter of enforcement when someone does something outside the expectation, it is encouraging those who work and live within the expectations.

So, if the expectation is that meetings will start on time--the leader needs to be on time.

If a value is for a safe environment--ensure the value is not violated through witting or unwitting personal attacks on team members.

I've worked places where the values and expectations are posted, but after a while they become just another decoration on the wall. It is more important to live the expectations and that is how everyone will come to understand what they are. The team will key off the leader's behavior.

Expectations should be lived. They should not be "shelf-ware" for reference only when there are problems.

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