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  • Lacy Starling

#56: Set Expectations, Early and Often

In a coaching session last week, my client brought up that she was hiring a new person to help with business development tasks, as well as serve as her executive assistant. She asked me how she could set that person up for success. I had several suggestions (I always do), but the most important one was this: Set clear expectations, and review them often.


At my companies, any new hire signs an expectations sheet on their very first day, right after they've gone through the obligatory HR onboarding process. The hiring manager sits down with them, and reviews, line-by-line, the expectations for their job, including the metrics that will determine whether they are doing their job well or not. That single interaction, I believe, sets the tone for the rest of their time with us. They know we mean business, and that we'll be transparent and fair with them when judging their performance.


An expectations sheet doesn't have to be fancy. I think a simple, numbered list is best. Outline clearly each of the major tasks for their job, along with that magical metric number. For example, a receptionist is expected to answer the phone within two rings. An accounts receivable clerk is expected to process all customer payments by noon each day. A salesperson is expected to make 65 calls per day. And etc.


This expectations sheet, I told my client, then becomes the basis for your performance reviews. Simply take the list of duties and expectations, see if the individual is meeting their metric, and go from there. This also removes any element of surprise from a performance evaluation. If you are a receptionist at my company and you regularly let the phone ring five or six times before answering, you know your performance has been below standard.


Starting a new job is hard enough—you have to make new work friends, figure out where to eat lunch, learn a new phone system, etc. Make it easier for your new hires by making sure they understand what's expected of them from day one.

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