What to expect

I’ve been working for the MnSCU system for a year and a half, and have pretty much reached the place where it doesn’t all seem new anymore.  I know the location of Conference Room B, have good contacts in the IT department, and mostly know which direction to turn when I get off the elevator.  I also have a good picture of what I’m going to be doing with my time and what it will look like when I’m doing it well.

One of the necessary skills for leading performance is setting clear expectations.  As a new employee, I was fortunate to have a supervisor that’s very good at this.  She met with me at least weekly in the beginning and we continue to have bi-weekly meetings where I can ask questions and clarify what I need to be doing.  In addition, we have quarterly conversations about my performance – how I am doing in relation to the goals we mutually agreed on, what new goals have come up, what problems I’ve encountered, and how she can support me.

Michael Watkins described this process in his book The First 90 Days.  Among other pieces of good advice, he encourages new employees to have focused conversations with their new boss to clarify goals and understand more about expectations.

It’s amazing how useful these conversations can be, even beyond the first 90 days. They can provide a road map to help employees stay on track. For us as managers, they are a useful guideline for ongoing interactions to be sure you are supporting your employees’ performance. Check out this Harvard Business Review blog entry for an overview of the five conversations about:

  1. Situation diagnosis
  2. Expectations
  3. Styles
  4. Resources
  5. Personal development

Do your employees know what you expect of them?  How do you know?

Dee Anne Bonebright


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