According to the Human Capital Institute, “Approximately seventy percent of new hires decide whether to stay or leave an organization within the first six months of joining.” In case you haven’t already felt the impact of high turnover, think about this: Forbes says, “Off-the-shelf estimates are available, which might set the cost of an entry-level position turning over at 50 percent of salary; mid-level at 125 percent of salary; and senior executive over 200 percent of salary.” Deloitte suggests that hiring costs combined with lost productivity means each departing employee costs an average of $121,000.
To avoid these costs—financial and otherwise—leaders need to set the right expectations during onboarding, so employees have positive experiences, know what they must do to be successful, and become willing to walk through walls for their new company.
- Don’t Assume (Unconsciously Setting Expectations)
Some factors of running a successful team are obvious. Others aren’t. For example, one would think it’s clear that showing up on time is an understood expectation; however, if an employee was “trained” at his last job that tardiness is okay, you have to reprogram this expectation. In fact, there are also several other ways employees take their cues on what is expected from them. These could consist of what society wants from them, the new company’s on-boarding process, explicit written instructions, and perhaps most important, what they observe from other co-workers and supervisors.
As a leader, your team is watching you for expectations. It’s important to clearly communicate what is expected of your new employees, which reinforces expectations to all employees. Employees are more engaged at work if they know what’s expected of them. It’s not just about having rules and consequences. It’s about mindfully engaging your employees at a heart level and motivating them to raise the standard of their performance.
- Employees Love Expectations
There are some common areas of expectations to look out for as a leader. They are lack of time management, missing deadlines, use of cell phone during meetings, general personal internet use at work, not following set work protocols, dressing too casually and using foul language at work. While some of these rules seem obvious, setting the boundaries in a specific way helps avoid ambiguity.
As a rule of thumb, you almost can’t go too far in setting clear expectations. A line or two in your manual stating that gross behavior such as violence or theft has zero tolerance may not be needed for most, but still consider including it. It sets a tone. A woman who once prepared for Canadian citizenship was handed a manual to study. In the manual, there was a line about having no tolerance of spousal abuse, “honor” killings or similar behavior in their country. If Canada finds importance in making clear such abhorrent behavior will not be tolerated, companies can definitely learn from its example.
Setting clear expectations helps retain employees because it cuts down on their anxiety. When you set clear expectations and follow through with them, employees know what to expect and what consequences will happen. It also eliminates feelings of unfairness. If one employee experiences a fall out from not finishing an assignment on time and another employee experiences no ramifications for the same offense, that could breed animosity on a team. Most of the time, workers should know what to expect when they’re called into a meeting about their work performance. You accomplish this by setting firm expectations and consistently following through on them. No surprises equals no anxiety and long term commitment with your company.
- Coaching for Success, Not Happiness
As a leader at work, you have to set the example, and it revolves around coaching. It’s bringing all leaders in on thinking like an owner. If they have the level of investment in a decision or outcome that an owner would, that changes the game.
Leaders encounter trouble when they just want their employees to be happy. There’s nothing wrong with encouraging happiness at work, of course, but think of a leader more like a personal trainer. Of course, a personal trainer does care about you, but they are really there to help you get in shape, form muscles, and improve your health. You may not always like them, as they are coaching you to be better. As a leader at work, you are there to help your employees succeed, learn new skills, and make an income to support their families.
As Steve Jobs said as CEO at Apple, “My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to take these great people we have and to push and make them even better.” Combining solid expectations communicated in a clear way with focused coaching builds a team that succeeds and wants to work for your company for years to come.
Written by Hernani Alves.
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