The importance of expectations

By Kevin Eikenberry

The support that newly promoted supervisors are given varies– a lot. While there are some organizations that have a clear training and development process for these new leaders, for many others, there is little to nothing.

Many of these new supervisors are moving from the work that they were doing to leading people who are doing the work that they were doing. They are scared, excited, anxious, and likely unsure about what the new expectations are.

So, as a newly promoted supervisor, once the excitement of the promotion wears off, what are you thinking? You are probably thinking that you need more skills, but there is a much more immediate question. It is some version of:

  • What do I do now?
  • What are the expectations?
  • How do I know if I am successful?

Each of these questions have a common thread– these are questions of role expectations.

In our experience, most new leaders move through the most challenging job transition of their life without knowing exactly what is expected of them, how to be successful, or even what their new job is.

If you want your new supervisors to be more successful immediately and for the long term, you must give them clear role expectations.

Clear Expectations

In order for your leaders to be successful, they need clarity in at least four areas:

  1. The work itself:
    • What will their activities be?
    • How much of the work of the team should do?
    • What will their relationships with team member be?
    • What is and is not their role?
    • How do they know if you are succeeding?
  2. Communication
    • Who will they communicate with?
    • How often?
    • What should they talk about and what should be discussed?
  3. Priorities
  4. Culture: New leaders need to understand how you expect them to work. Without guidance, they will operate on their comfort zone and past examples. Your leaders should be encouraged to be a leader of culture, not just a leader of work.

Who is Responsible?

For the new leader to be most successful, all three must work together:

  1. The organization
    • This could be something like “HR,” “Training,” or “Learning and Development.” It is whoever is responsible for training of new leader. They can give some answers with the offer letter, any onboarding into the new role, or other programmatic ways. This is helpful but not enough.
  2. The Leader’s leader, such as a coach or supervisor.
    • This person plays an essential role in clarifying expectations and coaching the new leader as they work to reach the new clear expectations.
  3. The New Leader.
    • As a new leader, you need answers to these questions. Hopefully you won’t have to do all of the asking yourself.

If you would like to further think about a process of developing new leaders, join us for Virtual LeaderCon. There are experts you can ask to get your questions answered.

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