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Manage from clear expectations, not around personalities


Managers who possess unflinching clarity on performance and behavior expectations are skilled and assertive communicators who build high performing cultures. Why? Because trust, accountability and alignment infuse how work is done. Managing from expectations shines a bright light into the workplace, preventing complacency from creeping in.


The employee personalities, workplace dynamics and performance concerns outlined below offer mini-case studies for examination:

1. Sarah is a highly competent team member but is abrupt with her peers.
2. Jorge is a steady, dependable employee who likes to be left alone to “do his work.”
3. Pat is a positive, collaborative team player but performance outputs consistently hover around meeting expectations.


“It is no use saying ‘we are doing our best.’ You have to succeed in doing what is necessary.” Winston Churchill


In each of the employee scenarios there are reasonable expectations that an effective manager would insist upon. Think of these fundamental behaviors and values as your non-negotiables.

Sarah – civility, professional respect, courtesy, kindness

Jorge – cooperation, team orientation, collaboration, professionalism

Pat – results, outcomes, productivity


10-10-10 Coaching Engagement Agenda: A 1:1 Meeting Guide


Effectively managing from expectations requires two core supporting skills:

#1 – Conducting regular, substantive 1:1’s
• Actionable
• Clear, mutually-beneficial agenda
• Individualized around employee’s motivational drivers, goals or career aspirations

#2 – Delivering constructive feedback
• Caring and candid
• Acknowledges effort and contributions
• Identifies weaknesses or areas to strengthen


Sample manager 1:1 dialogue with Sarah

Sarah, you know I value your intellect and competency, and you consistently exceed most performance expectations. There is one critical expectation area that you fall short on and that is treating your colleagues with professional respect and courtesy. Your responses are curt and abrupt. In this morning’s meeting you gave a blunt “no” to Ryan and Monica. This makes you appear that you don’t value others contributions, shuts down valuable dialogue and falls short of my expectation of professionalism. What improved or constructive behaviors can you begin modeling with your colleagues starting today?


Most employees want to be their best at work. They value progress, professional growth and achieving significant goals and results. Managers who insist team members achieve high standards, and give them coaching support, foster loyalty in their teams. Managing from expectations is usually considered “tough love” but as the adage goes – nobody has ever been motivated by low expectations!


Keep it simple. Keep it focused. Definitely keep it inspiring.  -Steve