Miscellaneous

To Help a New Hire Succeed, Start With Managing Your Expectations for Them

Who you hire matters, but what you expect of them makes an even larger impact.

I recently hired for a new executive leadership position and had high expectations for what their role would look like. Even more so, I held high hopes around how this added contributor would impact my life for the better. After only a short period of time into bringing them on, I found myself feeling let down and began to question why.

I’ll be the first to admit I often set high expectations that even I can’t meet. And I am learning this isn’t the best way to bring on new hires, nor is it how to grow a team of inspired and engaged employees. As leaders, we have grand visions. If left unchecked, these can lead to unconsciously placing unspoken or unclear expectations on team members. 

This misalignment leads to disappointment, and that isn’t fun for anyone to experience. The beauty is, this can easily be avoided by making a transition away from the leader setting expectations, and instead, focusing on each team member’s expectations of themselves.

The more leaders remove assumptions from the equation, the clearer communication will become and the more growth opportunities will arise. Here is how I have learned to adjust expectations and build people up within my business and life.

1. Hire people based on values.

Without having a clear alignment in personal, moral, and professional values, an employee naturally won’t hold the same expectations for themselves as you do. When screening new applications or meeting with a current employee, get curious about their values. Just because someone is a high achiever doesn’t mean they hold the same vision and communication priorities as the rest of your team. This misalignment will quickly walk all parties into a zone of frustration and setback. 

Ask questions to understand what they intrinsically value (i.e., respect, risk-taking, support) extrinsically value (i.e., compensation, recognition, ownership) and what they value in terms of lifestyle (i.e., owning a home, building their own hours, quality time with family). Look at all three aspects of a person’s values in order to understand whether they align with yours and those of the business.  

2. Learn the expectations employees have for themselves.

Spend time from the beginning building a clear vision around how your employees view themselves. Don’t shy away from getting right to it and asking what they want to accomplish, what they expect of themselves, and what their goals are.

The more granularity you build around where they see themselves going, the easier it becomes to create a growth plan to meet and exceed their own expectations. Why does this matter? I have found when you can help someone meet their goals, it sparks inspiration within them to have higher expectations for themselves. This then generates a cycle of continued growth that benefits both the employee and the overall business.

3. Understand what each team member wants.

In order to generate inspiration for performance that leads to positive results, it is critical to learn what your employees want. Perhaps they want to grow skills to step away and start their own business one day, or maybe they want to grow in their role and move up the ladder within the organization. 

Learn what this long-term “want” is in order to build actions that send them on their way to success.  

As I grew my business, I quickly came to the realization that an employee is not an owner, and it would be inaccurate to expect them to act like owners. Sure, your employees care about the mission of your business. If you grow a strong culture, they will be committed to the brand success and care about the well-being of the organization. But this doesn’t mean they take 100 percent ownership. That is left to you.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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