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Editor’s Note:
Chris Heinz, EnergyCAP’s Vice President for Human Resources, is this week’s blogger. He blogs regularly on topics like workplace purpose, engagement, strengths, and coaching at Munyay.com. If you don’t want to miss his blog posts, you can subscribe here.

This is a very special time of year for our family. We adopted our son, Asher, from the Philippines when he was four—four years ago—which means on this birthday, Asher will have lived with us longer than he has lived with anyone else.

Asher was the second child we adopted. Rex, who’s ten, came from the Philippines a few years before. And before that, my wife Colette and I had our only biological child, Asia, who’s now fourteen. We hadn’t planned on adopting when we got married, but sometimes life doesn’t turn out the way you expected. We ended up giving two orphans a home.

Which brings us to the purpose of this post—expectations. One of the reasons American workers are so disengaged is due to the lack of clear expectations at work. According to Gallup, only “6 in 10 U.S. employees strongly agree that they know what is expected of them at work.” And yet, as decades of research has shown, “Clear expectations are the most basic and fundamental employee need.”

If you don’t know what’s expected of you, how are you supposed to know what to do? How will you know when you’ve done it? How will you plan meaningful growth? Effective performance, goal setting, and meaningful development are pretty impossible without clear expectations. It’s no wonder 67% of American employees feel unmotivated, disconnected, and aimless at work.

Managers may think their employees understand what’s expected of them, but that doesn’t mean their employees do. Managers may think their employees know what excellent performance looks like, but that doesn’t mean their employees do. And managers may think their employees know what their next steps of growth are, but that doesn’t mean their employees do.

Is this happening at your workplace?

At EnergyCAP, Inc., we’re going against the flow. We’ve rolled out an employee success program that seeks to clarify expectations. We want our employees to understand what’s expected of them, what great performance looks like, and how they can grow in meaningful ways.

To do this, we’ve established a unique role and outcome statement for each employee. Together, the manager and employee have created two things:

  • A short, streamlined role statement
  • A list of about five outcomes

Everyone from the CEO to the newest employee has a role and outcome statement, which are accessible to the whole organization. At any time, any employee can see what any colleague is supposed to be producing. Making expectations clear has helped with purpose, accountability, evaluation, development, and management.

When I asked employees what this approach has done for them, they said:

“Better defines my specific job responsibilities”

“Organizes various areas of development”

“Helps me to better understand my role in the company"

“Gives me a clear career path at EnergyCAP”

“Places individuals into the best role to utilize their strengths”

There are many benefits of making expectations clear, but perhaps the best one is this—clear expectations provide a sense of belonging. When employees can say, “I know why I’m here,” it’s like giving them a home. Even if you didn’t expect to.

Establishing the roles and outcomes was a big effort between employees and their managers, but the work is paying off. We’re already seeing a double-digit improvement for engagement scores in this area. When engagement increases, so does productivity, profitability, positive interactions with coworkers, innovation, and employee satisfaction with their organization.

Here are eight big benefits of establishing a role and outcome statement for every employee:

Sets Clear Expectations
Barely half of employees nationwide know what’s expected of them. A role and outcome statement communicates expectations clearly to get alignment between managers and employees. Just because a manager thinks expectations are clear doesn’t mean the employee does.

Makes Evaluation Easier
According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report, “In many cases, employees are being held accountable for work that may or may not align with the work they are being evaluated on.” With a role and outcome statement, performance evaluation can be targeted correctly. Score them on what matters!

Strengthens Employee Purpose
A rising trend from Gallup’s workplace report is that employees “want their work to have meaning and purpose.” A role and outcome statement crisply identifies the employee’s purpose so she can believe exactly why she’s there. If not, what’s the point?

Simplifies Feedback Conversations
Today’s employees are looking for more frequent feedback conversations with their managers. A role and outcome statement provides easy fodder for meaningful discussions: “How have you enjoyed your role lately? Do you have a clear picture of what’s expected of you? Where have you seen success in your outcomes?”

Streamlines Development Toward Mastery
When an employee has a clear view of his role and outcomes, he and his manager can plan meaningful growth in targeted areas. Workers today are more oriented than ever toward growth and development. The question is, will they grow in the right ways? A role and outcome statement can direct the path.

Identifies Gaps in Team Outcomes
Individual positions are pieces of a larger team. If the smaller pieces aren’t delivering what they’re supposed to, then the team won’t be successful. Unless each person has a defined set of outcomes, how will you know why the team outcomes aren’t being met? A role and outcome statement for each member will identify the gaps in team outcomes so the cause can be diagnosed.

Drives Autonomy to Deliver Outcomes
When a manager communicates the expected outcomes—“Here’s what I expect you to produce”—but allows the employee to decide how they’ll do it, the sense of autonomy increases, which is good for the employee. And now the manager is free to manage outcomes, not micromanage methods.

Empowers Delegation
When a manager is aware of employee outcomes, she can look for opportunities to delegate. For example, instead of representing the department herself in an interdepartmental meeting, she can send her employee if he has an appropriate outcome. Now that’s meaningful delegation.

As you see, there are big benefits of establishing a role and outcome statement for every employee. The effort it takes will be worth it.

About The Author
Chris is Vice President of Human Resources for EnergyCAP, Inc., which helps organizations get value from their utility bills through energy management software. He's an Associate Certified Coach by the International Coach Federation, a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, and a Certified Professional Life Coach. He also started www.Munyay.com to help people love their life and love their work.
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