Managing Employee Expectation

People are definitely a company’s greatest asset. It doesn’t make any difference whether the product is cars or cosmetics. A company is only as good as the people it keeps.- Mary Kay Ash

An overview
We embark on our quest to comprehend what is employee expectation management. Every employee seeks to do their best at work. To give their best there are a few factors required to be bunched together. These factors are offered to the employee, as designed by the organization. Ideally they are a combination of the job description, role, compensation, fringes and branding. These factors are vital for an employee to be associated to identify the end result. This inherently impacts the employee lifecycle in the organization.

Source and flow to employee expectation
Let us identify, where it arises from. At the hiring phase, this may get initiated from either end. The employee starts looking for a job and the organization may headhunt the employee. This marks the beginning of communication and matching up of the employee expectation. The organization arranges a series of assessment to check the employability and the fitment to the role. Both the parties look at the same point from different sides.  Hence give the same designation, two completely different meanings. The company considers the role with right KPI to make best use of the resource, whereas for the employee, it’s a pedestal to achieve their dreams, a platform where they can offer their expertise and reach the next level with their offerings. Once the employee comes on board, it begins the journey of parallels to ‘what was perceived’ and ‘what is offered’. The new hire orientation aims at this through several educative programs addressing all the perception gaps. The performance management initiation cycle delves deeper into it. Here, the employee is supported to align the organization and team’s goal to their personal goals.  

Process to Manage expectations
The organization policy of designing ‘What’s in it for me’ and ‘what it means to work here’ deals with managing employee expectation. These cultural building programs aim at understanding the common feeling and club them under the organization goals and vision to manage them. Achieving greatness in the job is what every employee aims at. They would measure their achievements through the money and the responsibilities entrusted at different permutations. Hence the employer offers different programs through salary hikes, training and promotions to address them. Here’s a model as shared in, What it means to work here by Tamara J. Erickson and Lynda Gratton. It shares the relationship of employee type to expressive legacy and secure process. It describes how the ‘role of work’ and ‘what appeals to an employee’ corresponds with the other two variables. This helps in predicting employee expectation

Employee Type

Expressive legacy

Secure Progress

The role of work

Work is about increasing something with lasting value

Work is lot about increasing one’s life in finding a predictable path

What appeals and engages

Autonomy, entrepreneurial opportunities, Creative opportunities, enabling tasks and continuous growth

Fair predictable results, concrete compensation, solid benefits and retirement packages, stability, structure and routine, career training

To manage employee expectation certain steps needs to be followed. The implementation of these steps would depend on the business environment and its requirement. Expectation Management begins with ‘Assessment of the expectations’ followed by ‘Setting a process’ to manage it through the goal plan in performance management. ‘Explaining the metrics’ through the scorecard stands a crucial point as it removes every blind spot. An employee needs to know every detail of what they would be measured on. This is trailed by focussing on ‘Continuous Improvement’ and finally acknowledging the effort through ‘Rewards and Recognition’. Different surveys are designed and are measured through data based reports. Employee satisfaction survey is one such initiative. There are other programs including focus group meeting with skip level leadership, employee town halls, one-on-one meetings, message boards and etc. The month-end and quarter-end celebrations held in some companies aims at managing expectation through an indirect manner. The feedback about an employee which may be noted by the reporting leader needs counselling and observation. These observations are made not just in a formal environment but the informal environment as well. The employee who is reported to make initiatives and show leadership qualities, are delegated responsibilities during the volunteer events such as social based event or annual day event. The patterns for delivery of the tasks are noted and the employee gets trained to intern on the next level role. Thus the expectation of that employee to receive a promotion gets addressed. Similarly, when a leader expects to head a bigger business unit or manage an offshore unit, they may express that during their goal planning in performance management. This begins with weighing the potential of the leader’s delivery through the tasks allocated. The leader may get additional responsibility with shadowing any other leader who would currently have that requirement. If the delivery of tasks is fruitful, the leader may be sent for a while to the offshore unit to pilot capabilities, on the spot. Finally when this is cleared, the leader is offered the role as per the business requirement. 

Pros and Cons
The upside to employee expectation management is a better alignment of the performance and higher degree of employee satisfaction. Whereas the downside is in pigeon-holing the employee’s capabilities to what have been realised as strength. This may often eradicate the options of excellence through the strengths that remains yet to be realised. For e.g. an employee expects to be promoted as a manager. But fails to deliver, when promoted. Whereas the employee would have performed better, as an expert in another horizontal role, if groomed. This can be mitigated with practising a culture of openness to newer experiences and adopting responses to remain agile. This would need higher involvement with the management team and greater investment of the leaders’ time with their employee.

The benefits of employee expectation management would always supersede every hindrance. The aim for ‘alignment of belief’ to strive for the best for both, an employee and employer remains the soul to this process. In Anil Ambani’s words “I think you have to work with people, and when I talk about managing relationships, don’t think the derogatory ‘‘managed relationships’’. It is a question of sharing emotion and feelings. The common denominator of everything can’t be money, and it should not be money.”

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