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How to Set Clear Expectations

In last weeks article, we discussed the consequences of unclear expectations. Whether as a manager, teacher, or soccer coach, the results of setting unclear expectations can be disastrous. As leaders, we have a responsibility to set clear expectations for those following us. Most outcomes in our work, families, and even our hobbies can be traced back to either clear or unclear expectations.

To ensure we are setting ourselves, our organizations, and most importantly, those who receive their expectations from us, up for success, we must ensure our expectations are:

Developed Collaboratively

Expectations should not a be a list handed from leader to follow. Instead, expectations should be developed via conversation. This ensures buy-in from all parties and a focus on clarity from the start.

Clearly Defined

When done correctly, each party involved should know precisely when expectations have been met. This often includes a number of objectives or tasks to complete and a deadline.


Regardless of past performance, people will rise to the level of clearly defined expectations. Expectations should be realistic, but require a great amount of effort on the behalf of the employee or student.

When expectations are collaborative, clearly defined, and challenging, success rates will rise. Remember, the reason most expectations are not met is because they were never clear in the first place.


The next time you set expectations for someone, ask a mentor or third party to review them. This will ensure they are challenging and clear.


Where in your life are clear expectations most important? Why?


"Good management is better than good income." - Portuguese Proverb

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