The art of providing expectations: Tie the expectations to the larger strategy

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Providing expectations for how the team operates is an important skill for any manager or leader.  It doesn’t matter what level of manager you are, this is an important early step to establishing yourself as a manager and leader, and to set the right tone that reflects your values as a manager and your team’s values for how it executes its duties.

In previous posts, I’ve discussed the following artful elements of providing expectations:

Getting team input

Establishing expectations early

Using existing performance criteria for specific tasks

Providing general guidelines for behavior

Today I’ll discuss how to tie in the act of providing expectations with the larger strategy of the team and organization.

Providing expectations is different from defining the larger strategy of a team.  The larger strategy of a team or group dictates more what the team is working on and the resources it devotes to working on it to create a result greater than the individual work items.  The strategy should indicate what it is the team is actually producing.  The expectations should be consistent with the strategy and be the next layer down that translates more closely to the behaviors you expect and the areas the team should be working on.

So the expectations should feed into the larger strategy of the team or group.  If you don’t have a strategy, perhaps it’s time to get one!  It’s kind of a big topic, but let’s try to tackle it!

Let’s take a look at some examples of expectations that feed into a team or org strategy:

Team Strategy A: “We will improve delivery time and quality through the investment and adoption of new tools, technology and processes.”

Team Expectations that feed into Strategy A: “The team will have a planning cycle to look at options that meet the strategy of improved technological capability, and will plan the execution of the technology improvement program.  The team will work together to adopt the new technology once it is ready to be implemented.”

Team Strategy B: “We will improve delivery time and quality through improved workflows and focus on the customer”

Team Expectations that feed into Strategy B: “The team will take time to examine workflows, identify where there is impact on the customer, and create a venue for identifying solutions.  A task force team will take input from both structured and unstructured sources and recommend changes based on the suggestions and other new ideas.  The task force will have a broad representation and possible changes will be tested first before wide implementation.”

As with the other parts of artful expectation-providing, the more it ties to a strategy, the better.  The nice part of this is that this tie-in does not require perfection, it implies improvement and opportunity.  It allows the team to contribute to the strategy without dictating specifics.  The specifics are best negotiated out and handled by the team.

Of course, if your team or organization has no strategy, then this part of expectation providing will be very difficult indeed!  Sometimes the expectation-providing process will help reveal what your strategy is!

Keep reading this blog for more tips on strategy-setting and providing expectations to your team.

Does you provide expectations to your team that tie into strategy?   Does your team even have a strategy?  For you management designers out there, how to you assure that team expectations align with the strategy?

Related Articles:

Examples of providing expectations to your team

Examples of using expectations to improve your performance feedback

Performance feedback is a means to improve your expectation-providing skills

The art of providing expectations: If there are established performance criteria, then make them known!

The art of providing expectations: Get input and the earlier the better

The art of providing expectations: Describe the general guidelines of behavior

If you’re the manager, it’s your job not to act surprised

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About Walter Oelwein
Walter Oelwein, CMC, CPT, helps managers become better at managing. To do this, he founded Business Performance Consulting, LLC .

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