Expectations Guide


Expectations Guide

If you've landed here it's likely because you've already been learning all about expectations. This is a quick guide to keep in your back pocket. Take a look at it before a project planning meeting, performance review. Actually - just set a reminder to read it quarterly!


Consider the steps to define expectations:

  1. Define the task or work at hand

  2. Ask for, clarify and discuss expectations with all relevant stakeholders

  3. Plan checkpoints

  4. Debrief on results


Step 1: Define tasks around expectations:

  • Discuss these questions:

    • What is the goal from clarifying expectations? What do we hope will occur differently because of this conversation?

    • What is the action, behavior, work, project or responsibility that we are discussing?


Step 2: Start the conversation around expectations:

  • Start with the w’s: who, what, where, when, how?

    • Who- who are the stakeholder impacted?

    • What- what is the expected result?

    • When- when should the result occur by?

    • Where- where or in what capacity should it occur?

    • How- how or through what actions or behaviors should the work be accomplished?


  • As you develop a conversation style around expectations consider:

    • Who is expected to clarify expectations (who will lead the conversation?):

      • you as the team member

      • you as the manager

      • your manager

      • specific stakeholders

      • When should you propose answers and when should you expect answers to be directed by someone else? IE even if you are leading the discussion perhaps you should also have an answer in mind. Something like, “I wanted to clarify that these are the stakeholder in this work and this is the expected result.”

      • Discuss communication norms and behaviors for how you will discuss questions around expectations and checkin as work shifts.


Step 3: Discuss metrics for success:

  • Consider questions such as:

    • If I do x - what would success look like?

    • How will this work impact our team goals or larger objectives?

    • How will you (or how should we) be measuring the success of this work?

    • What should change or what should occur after the work is complete to know it is successful?

  • These are all questions you can discuss or come prepared with suggested solutions based on past work or your knowledge of the project at hand.


Step 4: Plan checkpoints:

  • Consider your normal meeting schedule and past work. When did you check in on progress?

    • When will follow ups occur?

    • Do you need to schedule meetings, add checkings to your 1x1 agendas or plan emails to send to checkin on on progress?

    • Are you measuring up to the original expectations that you set?

    • Have expectations shifted? What needs to shift in the work to accommodate that?

Step 5: Debrief around results both from the work and the initial goal to clarify expectations:

  • Go back to your written down expectations from steps 1-3

    • What happened as expected and what didn’t?

    • What commitments will you make towards future progress?

    • Why did or did not the expected results occur? Because of outside factors or challenges or because expectations were misaligned?

    • How can you continue to grow or maintain success?

    • What commitments will you make towards future progress?

People ManagementMarlow