EP 93 // The Final Step to Leadership Success: Setting Expectations

Ep 93

This is the first in a mini-series of episodes that will be based on the final step in Akua's three-step leadership framework: setting expectations. Whether you call it expectation setting, goal setting, or utilizing frameworks like KPIs or OKRs, these episodes will transform the way you approach expectation-setting and communication.

Leaders and managers will learn the significance of expectations and their impact on leadership and how to set achievable and realistic goals for their team. Importantly, leaders will also learn the crucial step of communicating expectations to their team, which will cultivate a positive work environment and foster growth and success.

Akua also talks about how expectations help with setting boundaries, building more efficient processes, and facilitating ongoing evaluation and adaptation. Setting expectations ensures your team is equipped to succeed, and when employees know what is expected of them, they're more engaged and productive.  

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What's Covered in this Episode About Psychological Safety

  • Learn the difference between explicit expectations (specific targets) and implicit expectations (things we've come to expect, assumptions based on bias or stereotypes).
  • Akua outlines four key elements to consider in relation to expectations: what you want, what you want from others, what they want, and what they want from you. 
  • It's hard to overstate the significance of explicitly communicating expectations to increase employee engagement, productivity, and satisfaction.
  • Understand the role of expectations in establishing professional boundaries, setting goals, and fostering growth and direction.

Quotes from this Episode of Open Door Conversations

  • "When you take the time to set expectations, you are actually creating the conditions for more freedom, more growth and more happiness in your business." - Akua Nyame-Mensah

  • "Strong employee expectations management reduces turnover and improves your retention rates." - Akua Nyame-Mensah
  • "If you don't set expectations properly, there will be no growth. And there'll be no direction, there'll be no growth because there'll be nothing to measure, you won't know your baseline and what you've been able to achieve." - Akua Nyame-Mensah

Mentioned in The Final Step to Leadership Success: Setting Expectations

Get to Know the Host of the Open Door Conversations Podcast

Learn more about your host, Akua Nyame-Mensah.

Akua is a certified executive and leadership coach, recognized learning and organizational development facilitator, speaker, and former startup executive. 

Since 2018, she has had the opportunity to partner with amazing organizations, from high-growth startups to multinational brands all around the world, to maximize people, performance, and profit.  Outside of her coaching and corporate speaking engagements, she is a regular mentor, coach, and judge for various entrepreneurship-focused organizations.

Stay in touch with Akua Nyame-Mensah, Leadership & Culture Advisor:

  • Read about Akua’s services if you’d like to learn more about how you can hire her to help you strengthen your organization’s culture.

  • Complete her contact form to jump on a call.

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Here’s the transcript for episode 93 about The Final Step to Leadership Success: Setting Expectations

NOTE: Please excuse any errors in this transcript; it was created using an AI tool. Akua Nyame-Mensah 00:00 When you take the time to set expectations, you are actually creating the conditions for more freedom, more growth and more happiness in your business. If that's not enough for you keep this in mind. According to one study, close to 50% of employees left a job because the Job did not meet their expectations. Strong employee expectations management reduces turnover and improves your retention rates. Hello, and welcome to the open door conversations podcast. My name is Akua Nyame-Mensah. I also respond to Aqua and Akua. I'm a certified executive and leadership coach recognised learning and organisational development facilitator, speaker and former startup executive. And I am so excited because this year I'm celebrating five years of working for myself five years of supporting leaders. And I am so grateful because I've had the opportunity to partner with amazing organisations, from hydro startups to multinational brands all around the world, and 2022 alone, I serve over 600 Yes, over 600 leaders around the world. And in this podcast, you will have the opportunity to learn my three step leadership framework. I actually break it down in Episode 71. I use this framework with my high achieving and entrepreneurial minded clients that are juggling a million responsibilities so they can easily build wealth. This three step framework is going to teach you how to leverage your innate personality to learn how to prioritise and maximise not just your time, but also your money. You don't have to work harder or turn into someone else. To get more done. Let's tune into this week's episode. Hello, and welcome to this week's open door conversations podcast episode. I'm really excited because this week, we are jumping into our last mini series of my three part series All About My three step leadership framework or system. If this is your first episode you're listening to please make sure you go back and listen to the first episode in this series, which is episode number 71, where I introduce my framework and I take you through the system. If you're ready to jump into this week's topic expectations, keep listening as I have with many of these episodes, I actually want to start with a definition. So I have an Oxford languages definition around expectations, I actually have several different definitions I want to share. So this first definition I have here is that expectations is a strong belief that something will happen or be the case. Another definition is a belief about what might happen in the future. And I think it's important to start with these two definitions. And I'll share some additional definitions I have a bit more nuance, and actually relate a little bit more to leadership in the workplace. Because we are constantly setting expectations. As human beings, we are meaning making machines, aka we are expectation setting machines. And it's really important that we gain clarity and become aware. So that first step of my three step process of these expectations that we've set, we're not always aware of them. And that's why my third part of my system is setting expectations and recognising becoming aware of creating space around the expectations that we might set or potentially even share inadvertedly here's an additional way of thinking about expectations, a person's expectations or strong beliefs, which they have about the proper way someone should behave, or something should happen. I think this is also a very important definition of expectations to reflect on. Because a lot of us are using our expectations in the workplace. And we're not always explicit about it. And I'll actually be talking about the two basic types of expectations that we can consider. But we always are looking at how other people are behaving, looking at about how other people are showing up jumping to conclusions, making assumptions. I'm sure you even listen to this episode. And this is something I'm sure I shared in the self awareness episode because all of these are very much linked, can jump to conclusions or have expectations about what I will share expectations about how I'll show up what I will look like maybe even where I went to school where you think I'm from all based on superficial traits such as my accent. So that's another thing to keep in mind. Another interesting way to Look at this are your expectations are your strong hopes or beliefs that something will happen, or that you will get something that you want. And once again, this becomes increasingly important in the workplace where we're not always explicitly sharing directly sharing succinctly sharing what we would like to see. And when you have high expectations, especially if you haven't communicated them in a way that resonates with that stakeholder with that team member, even with your partner, you can be easily disappointed your customers and clients can also be easily disappointed if those expectations aren't managed, or if they're not properly shared. The key thing here as it relates to expectations, and why I like using the word expectations, as opposed to goal setting is that there is so much that goes into, there are so many emotions that are associated with what we would like to have happen with what we expect to happen with what we assume will happen. But we cannot predict the future, we can only make the most of the present. And so for this series I'll really be talking about and diving deeper into some of the things that we can do better as leaders, so we do not trigger resentment. So we have the least amount of confusion, possibly, because our expectations will not always match to our reality. And it's really important that we learn one to cultivate our awareness to to engage with it self regulate, so that we can set new expectations to move everyone along. I mentioned earlier, there are two basic expectations that we should consider as conscious leaders. The first is recognising that there are a lot of things that do get written that do get shared, we're not always aware of these things sometimes, and sometimes we are aware of them. So one of the things that we need to consider is explicit expectations. And those are specific targets that have been shared or written down somewhere. The second, and possibly more important, because this is not something we always consider or keep in mind are implicit expectations. And those are things we have come to expect. Those might be assumptions that we make, or things that we jump to based on our bias or stereotypes. As a leader, there's four basic things that you should also consider in relation to these two basic expectations. The first is what you want. The second is what you want from them, or from others, the third, what they want, and the last what they want from you. All of these are expectations. And all of these things can show up within one conversation within one interaction within one engagement. Why do we set and most importantly, communicate. So they are explicit expectations, we do this so that people, our team, our stakeholders, our partners, our children even know what success looks like, I was actually onboarding a new client this week. And one of the things that she talked about was the importance of communication. And we actually do have an episode dedicated to communication. And we talk about both more explicit communication. So maybe what you share verbally, and more implicit communication or expectations, in this case, which can come from our body language, our tone, our inflections. And it's important to keep in mind that those can also communicate expectations, or boundaries, as well, we also set and hopefully explicitly communicate expectations. So we don't overwhelm ourselves. So we have something to work towards, that's motivating. So we set boundaries, so we can build processes, so we can become more efficient. In this case, actually, when we refer to productivity or efficiency, especially for thinking about it from more of that economic point of view, you actually have to measure it against something in order to be more efficient, right? It doesn't happen in a vacuum. And I think one of the most important reasons why we set and hopefully explicitly communicate expectations is so we can recalibrate. So we can check in and we can review because one of the biggest things I hear from leaders, as I share my system or approach to setting expectations is how do we know when something will be done if we've never done it before? And I think that's such a great question. But more importantly, we should be creating systems and approaches. So we're constantly checking in so we can update deadlines, if necessary. So we can pivot if we have to. So we can bring in different resources if necessary. From my perspective, that's the most important component of expectations, and what we'll be diving deeper into as we continue within this mini series. So let's bring this back to the workplace because I've probably been talking from a pretty high perspective or high level view as a relay. Having a team and building a team, setting expectations can help us make sure the people that we bring on and those we already have on our team are equipped to succeed. They're on the same page. A lot of research reports that when employees know what's expected of them, they're actually more engaged, we can actually define and measure productivity, they tend to be more satisfied. And this should be one of the key things that we create time for, and set aside energy for as a leader setting and managing employees expectations, not after the fact, setting these expectations can also support you, your employees, your team, your stakeholders, with aligning their professional goals with their abilities, and create that psychological safety, that trusting professional relationship with coworkers, with supervisors, with colleagues, through having expectations and explicitly communicating them, you can establish the right boundaries, set goals, because I'm sure many of you are asking yourself, what's the difference between goal setting and expectation setting, I use the two words interchangeably, but you can consider them to be different things and learn more about those you're engaging with or supporting. Ultimately, expectations serve as the baseline for what you will be pleased with as a leader or even within your personal life. But it's important that you become aware of them. Because so many of us once again, have those implicit expectations that maybe we were socialised with, we were conditioned with, we were told, we need to hold those standards. And we need to ask ourselves whether or not a lot of those implicit expectations, once we create the time to become aware of them, are serving us. And within my leadership system, expectations is so important because even if you are aware, and you engage to have the buy in of your people, if you don't set expectations properly, there won't be no growth. And there'll be no direction, there'll be no growth because there'll be nothing to measure, you won't know your baseline and what you've been able to achieve. And there'll be no direction because no one will know where to go, you haven't given it, you haven't shared what success looks like, or at least what the process should be. And if you're thinking to yourself, all I need to do is buy that new app or use that new tool, technology is not going to solve your expectations or results problem. Neither is productivity or task management software. In my next little episode, I will walk through what I share whenever I'm supporting a leader. And I think a key thing here as I share this is this is the same information and tools that I share whether they have a super structured, centralised process because they work within a corporate organisation, or they're within a high growth startup where this process might not be completely built out, I share the same exact thing. I see the same gaps, the same issues with expectation setting. And so on my next solo episode, I'll be sharing and walking through the same process and system that I share with the different leaders that I support. So whether you call it expectation setting, goal setting, whether it's for yourself or others, maybe we even call it KPIs or OKRs. It really doesn't matter because not only do most of us set them wrong, but we forget to actually explicitly communicate them and break them down in a way where they can be achievable and realistic. As always, thank you so much for taking the time to listen, stay safe, stay sane, and set your expectations wisely. Thank you so much for listening to this week's episode, please share this episode with someone who can benefit from its contents. If you found this episode helpful, I want to ask you to leave a review. This makes it easier for other people to find my podcast and also allows me to bring on even bigger guests and even more fascinating stories. Thank you so much for listening again. Stay safe and stay sane


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