How to Set Clear Expectations as a Manager – It Comes Down Vision

October 22, 2018

Learn how to set clear expectations as a manager – it comes down to setting a vision.

Recently, we asked 3,000 professionals the most frustrating trait they’ve experienced in a manager. There was one runaway winner: managers who have unclear or changing expectations.

This result comes across as no surprise to leadership consultant and LinkedIn Learning instructor Bonnie Hagemann. And, frankly, it’s understandable.

For one thing, the business world is moving faster than ever today. And, even within an organization, management, priorities and tools all are changing faster and faster, all creating a “fog” that makes it difficult for managers to set clear, consistent expectations.

How are you, as a boss, supposed to overcome this? One word – vision.

“We need leaders who can lead through the fog,” Hagemann said in her LinkedIn Learning course, Leading with Vision. “Visionary leadership means that you will set a beacon in the distance. The vision is the beacon of light in the distance and it will create hope and direction for those you lead.”

In other words, to be a successful manager today, you need to have a clear vision for your team, which they can use to guide their decisions. Not only does lead to clear, consistent expectations for your team members, it also leverages the power of hope.

Which will bring out the absolute most from them.

LinkedIn Learning Instructor Bonnie Hagemann explains the power of hope, which comes from leading with vision.

Have You Set a Clear Vision for Your Team? Use This Test to Find Out

Okay, so here’s where the rubber meets the road. Have you, as a manager, set a clear vision for your team?

Well, there’s a really easy test to find out. Ask one of your employees what the vision of your team is. If they know it, congrats, you’ve set a clear vision.

If not, well, you probably haven’t. And that means you need to spend time crafting a vision for your team.

LinkedIn Learning Instructor Bonnie Hagemann explains why having a clear vision is so important.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind When Crafting Your Vision

Perhaps you haven’t set a clear vision for your team, which leads to unclear or changing expectations. Or, you want to make your vision even stronger.

Here’s a few best practices for doing that:

  • Tie it to your organization’s vision. Hopefully, your organization has a vision, or at least a clear strategy. Your team’s vision needs to latter up to your organization’s larger vision or strategy. If you are unclear what that is, ask your boss for clarification.
  • Use real language. If the vision for your team is filled of buzzwords, clunky language and qualifiers, it isn’t going to resonate. Instead, make it a clean, simple message.
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat. State your vision at the beginning of every team meeting. Bring it up when making decisions. This takes the vision from something pie-in-the-sky to something tangible and real that truly guides your team’s strategy.
  • Most importantly, follow the vision yourself. Remember the key problem you are trying to solve here – you want to build clarity. So, if you yourself are doing things that oppose your own vision or don't latter back up to it, you create fog. Instead, by consistently using your vision to guide your own work, you give your employees the clear expectations they crave.

The Takeaway

The research is clear – setting clear expectations for your team is the most important aspect of being a manager. How well you do that will directly affect your team's performance, engagement and retention.

And that comes down to having a clear vision. If you don’t, you’ll start doing “what’s urgent, instead of what’s important,” according to Hagemann. And that’ll lead to fog, confusion, changing expectations and unengaged employees eager to go elsewhere.

So, if you are a manager, take the time to set a vision for your team – and even for each individual member of the team. There’s no better investment you can make.

Want to learn more? Watch Hagemann’s full course, Leading With Vision, which is 100% free to all until Dec. 31.

Three other management courses unlocked until Dec. 31 are: