What kind of culture are you trying to create? Does your team know?


Does your team understand their goals for the year? I bet they do. Most good leaders know how to set and communicate goals. What about expectations? How well does your team understand your expectations? What’s the difference?

Goals reflect what you want accomplished. Expectations reflect how you want it accomplished. For example, your goals might deal with customer satisfaction, market share, or cost containment. Your expectations might talk about how you’d like your team to treat your customer. Should they be trusted advisors? Order takers? Unconditionally accommodating? How should team members interact with each other? Is it every person for him/herself or do you expect people to collaborate and support one another.

Expectations are important. They help reinforce the culture of your team.

In my last job, I create an expectations document for my team.

I was surprised at how many people said they had never been given their leader’s expectations.

One of my directors approached me and said, “This document really raises the bar for the group. It’s exciting. I don’t know if I’m ready but I’m ready to try.” 

He also commented that this document helped him understand why his career might have stagnated. He said, “I’ve always hit my goals. But, that didn’t seem to be enough. I could never figure out what was missing. I bet my prior bosses always had a list like this. I wish I would have known about it.”

I was surprised how quickly the team’s culture began to change once they saw the expectations.

The team now had direction. They could hold each other (and me) accountable not just for our results but for how we interacted.

Cultural expectations (or “Who are we”?) are one of the three key questions that I recommend that all leaders answer for their team. (For the other two, please check out https://www.availadvisors.com/2008/10/questions-that-create-focus-and-clarity-for-your-team/ ).

Below, I’ve listed the expectations that I gave my team.

I’m not trying to suggest that these are the “right” expectations for you and your team.

Rather, I’m hoping they can serve as an example of a simple way to communicate your expectations to your team.

This simple list became a key guidepost for helping my team think about their work, their decisions, and their actions. Note that the expectations are more than headlines. Sound bites can be ambiguous. Explain what each one means, simply and clearly.

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Our team members . . .

Act With Integrity

Our team members are true to their word, transparent in their thinking, and forthright in their actions. They say what they mean and mean what they say. They put organizational success ahead of personal agendas or pride. They do what is right.

Embody A Passion For People

Our team members put people first. They have a passion for helping individuals succeed. They constantly look for ways to break down any barrier that might be preventing people from reaching their potential. They are an advocate and a voice for our organization’s people.

Drive Outcomes And Results

Our team members are not satisfied until they have caused a demonstrable change in an individual or in the organization as a whole. They recognize that processes, programs and other events are means to an end. They are tenacious in their pursuit of results. They act with urgency.

Draw Upon A Point Of View

Our team members have an informed point of view about the area for which they are responsible. They drive their decisions and actions from that point of view. They are advocates for their point of view although are open to the ideas of others. Their actions have purpose and their purpose has action.

Work As A Team

Our team members support one another. They complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They are available and present for each other. They help one another succeed, grow, and prosper.

Engage in dialog and offer insight

Our team members actively engage in discussions. They share their perspective and insights or ask questions to further the thinking of others. They listen carefully to others. They support constructive, respectful debate and dialog. They contribute to each interaction they have, whether it be one-on-one or in a group.

Spark Curiosity And Innovation

Our team members are curious. They don’t settle for the status quo. They make each answer the start of a new set of questions. They overcome constraints and assumptions to find meaningful and powerful answers to hard problems. They are not afraid to take chances

Think Holistically

Our team members see the big picture. They understand the context of the problems they are solving. They propose solutions that fully address the problem at hand. They drive sustainable results.

Treat All People With Respect

Our team members value the experience, perspective, and being of all people. They give others their full attention and consideration. They are fully present and engaged in their interactions with others. Their actions are reflective and considerate of the needs of others.

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Brad Kolar is an executive consultant, speaker, and author with Avail Advisors. Avail can help you clarify and communicate your expectations, including your cultural expectations. Contact Brad at brad.kolar@availadvisors.com.

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