Potential Benefit of Clearly Setting Performance Expectations

One of the easiest actions for increasing worker performance and creating a pleasant work environment is clarity.  Workers, supervisors, and administrators want clarity.  Clarity of message.  Clarity of rules. Clarity of expectations.

People by nature are creatures of habit.  We perform best in environments that are predictable and stable.  Humans like the comfort of knowing what to expect and being able to predict likely outcomes.  Think about your own small habits and the comfort these bring.  Do you like to shop at the same grocery store?  Do you tend to park in the same space at work?  Do you sit in the same chair for shift briefings or meetings?  Do you keep items at work or home arranged in a consistent way?  More specifically, do you wear your work uniform and gear the same way, in the same place, all the time?  More likely than not, most of us can probably identify with habitual patterns of behavior, and would almost certainly admit that we have these habits because they make us feel comfortable and remove uncertainty.  We know habit can help us accomplish tasks; such as shopping and parking, quicker with less time spent on trying to navigate something new.  Police officers keep their gear in the same spot on their duty belt for decades, because we want to be comfortable knowing that we can expect our duty gear to be in a known and certain spot when we need it.  Matter of fact, we become so accustomed to knowing how our duty belt fits that we can feel when something is out of place and we’ll correct it.  We want things to be the same and predictable.

The same is true for rules and work expectations.  These areas are no different than any other behavior of habit; such as parking and seating arrangements.  Employees want to know what the expectations are.  They want them to be consistent.  They want to know the area that they are required to operate within and the consequences for moving outside of those boundaries.  Employees want well established practices of operation and that any deviation will be addressed equally across all spectrums of the organization.

Employees can adjust to expectations.  Most will easily come on board with firm set expectations, because ultimately it provides comfort found in habit and routine.  They’ll know that as long as they meet expectations, they will be safe and employment will be shielded from confusion and disorder.  We have to remember that our workers are people outside of the organization, and people thrive with clarity of message, rules, and expectations.  So be resolved, set the expectations; and above all, be clear.