When It Comes To Communicating And Setting Team Expectations, More Is More

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Setting Team Expectations: Your Ticket To A Self-Managing Company®

Imagine you’ve been given the task of building a boat. You’ve been told what a boat is, who you’ll be building it with, and when it needs to be completed by—but that’s it. You don’t know the type of boat you have to build, what it will be used for, or which specific features would make it a pleasing and successful boat versus an ugly, useless one. In other words, you don’t have clear expectations to meet.

You’d probably feel pretty frustrated. What’s more, you’d have no confidence in your ability to deliver a great result.

Now imagine you’ve been given design schematics. Even better, you’ve been told who will be using this boat, for what purpose, and under what circumstances.

You’d probably feel a lot better about your ability to not only build a boat, but build it well.

How do you want people to show up?

Job descriptions are just like this project. If someone doesn’t know how their performance is being judged, they don’t know how to do a good job. They don’t know whether they’re doing well or poorly, or even just adequately. They don’t know if you’re happy or unhappy with them. And that’s an awfully stressful situation to be in.

A team member in this environment is going to go home worrying about work, and they’re going to leave the house dreading their return the next day. The reason? Their confidence has been undermined by unclear expectations.

That’s where setting team expectations comes in, and I use a tool called the 4×4 to make this process as efficient and effective as possible. It’s an easy process that anyone can go through on their own and share their thinking with their team members.

In the simplest of terms, it’s an agreement, or contract, between you and your team. It tells them what you want and what you don’t want, and it empowers them to take their job—and your vision—into their own hands.

The benefits of this power shift are huge for everyone. When people are confident in their roles, they don’t need to be managed. This “agreement” is now the manager, and people have only to refer to it to solve most problems they might encounter. This frees you up to focus on coming up with great ideas to grow your business, and frees them from uncertainty and stress, not to mention resentment at being micromanaged.

Setting team expectations effectively, then, is your ticket to a Self-Managing Company—a company whose team members are batteries-included, meaning they create their own momentum and motivation rather than needing you to do it for them.

This might sound like magic, but it’s not. It’s just a matter of clarity, direction, and purpose, which you need to provide. It’s a small investment of time and thought that will yield endless returns for you.


With capable, focused team members in place, you can go after what you really want—a Self-Managing Company®. Find out what it is, how to get one, and if you have what it takes. Download The Self-Managing Company ebook today!


Specifically, there are four areas I focus on when setting expectations: Performance, Results, Being A Hero, and Drives Me Crazy. Each of these has four success criteria, so the team member knows exactly what’s expected of them. Broken down, it looks like this:

1. Performance

Alert, curious, responsive, resourceful: This is how your team members need to show up for you, and the ways they represent these ideals will change depending on their role. Generally speaking, however, high performers keep an eye out for opportunities to grow your business. They’ll ask questions and develop new ideas rather than just settle for what’s been handed to them.

2. Results

Better performance means better results, but it still helps to quantify what “better” means to you. I think we can all agree that faster, easier, cheaper, and bigger are what all entrepreneurs are looking for. When you work in a Results Economy versus a Time and Effort Economy, which every entrepreneur does, what matters is that you make the sale, not how much effort it took to make it.

3. Being A Hero

Trust me: Your team members want to be a hero to you. They want to make your life easier and be great at their jobs, so tell them exactly what going the extra mile looks like!

4. Drives Me Crazy

Have you ever hired someone who, according to the job description, did everything right, but you still fired them because they drove you crazy?

I’d be willing to bet this has not only happened to you, but has happened to you more than once. What’s more, you probably thought it was the result of poor luck each and every time.

But did it ever occur to you that they don’t know what drives you crazy? That your triggers are unique to you?

Do yourself, and your team members, a favor by figuring out what your “drives me crazy” things are and communicating them—before they become a problem.

Freedom from managing gives you freedom to do more of what matters.

The more intentional and specific you are about what you’re looking for, the more confident your team members will be in their roles. They’ll know exactly what’s expected of them and what they’re striving for, which gives them the freedom to strive in new and innovative ways. With a clear goal in sight, people can get excited about finding the best—that is, fastest, easiest, and cheapest—ways to achieve it.

And isn’t that what everybody wants from their team?

About the Author

Dan Sullivan

Dan Sullivan is the world’s foremost expert on entrepreneurship in action. He is the founder of The Strategic Coach Inc. and creator of The Strategic Coach® Program. Visionary, creative, wise, playful, and generous, he is a true champion of entrepreneurs worldwide.

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