How can I make sure I am doing what my manager wants?

Your manager likely has expectations around the work you should perform and how you should perform that work.

Expectations are the assumptions you and your manager have around...

  1. the work you do and how you do it (your actions and behaviors)

  2. your overall performance, and...

  3. what success looks like in your role.

To know what your manager expects of you, expectations should be clarified around:

  • Action: the thing you do

  • Behavior: how you do it

  • Result: what happens after you do it

Expectations should include metrics for success whenever possible. Consider discussing what success looks like in your role and how your performance will be measured and tracked.

The most common problem with engagement and productivity is a gap in expectations. This is usually caused by miscommunication. But it’s avoidable! Make sure you and your manager are on the same page about what your responsibilities are, your priorities, and what you are expected to deliver.

In your next 1x1 discuss expectations with your manager. Let your manager know you would like to clarify expectations to ensure you are performing well and ask  specific questions around the expected outcomes of your responsibilities and the tasks you perform. These questions could be:

  • What is your expected outcome or result of this project?

  • What behaviors are expected in client interactions?

  • What is expected of me in team meetings?

  • What am I expected to accomplish within XX time frame?

  • What Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) would you consider to review the success of my role?

Note: come prepared with your own answers! For example, if you have a more hands off manager who would like you to be more solutions-oriented then perhaps you should present the answers before expecting them to have an answer. 

As an example: “If my current project has X result, I would consider it success. Do you agree? Can we agree that is our specific expectation for success in this project?”

Test and experiment: If you are unsure of your manager’s style then test one. Either start with a question or start with a solution and based on their answer serve them more questions or solutions. If their answers are too vague for you to have clarity on your expectations ask for more details