Three Steps to Set Clear Expectations and Drive Employee Engagement

October 13, 2016

A recent Gallup Business Journal article reveals that many employees are not currently engaged in their jobs because they don’t know what is expected of them.  Employee engagement is the degree to which employees are involved in and enthusiastic about their role and working environment.  Today, only one third of all U.S. employees are engaged which is slightly greater than the same time last year when it was 30%.


While there is abundant research reinforcing that managers have a key role to play in employee engagement, few companies are focused on increasing it and are therefore leaving money on the table.  In fact, U.S. businesses lose $11 billion annually as a result of employee turnover according to the Bureau of National Affairs.  Moreover, Gallup’s latest meta-analysis shows that business units in the top quartile of employee engagement are 21% more profitable, are 17% more productive, have 10% better customer ratings, experience 41% less absenteeism and suffer 70% fewer safety incidents compared with business units in the bottom quartile.

Since only about half of all workers strongly indicate that they know what is expected of them at work, setting and modifying clear expectations is a viable way to drive employee engagement in the short term. Here are three tactics to set expectations and increase employee engagement.

Collaborate.  Dale Carnegie’s 7th Human Relations principle, ‘Be a good listener.  Encourage others to talk about themselves,’ underscores that it is critical for companies to gather workers’ input and collaborate with them regarding role expectations.  This approach makes employees feel valued and increases the likelihood of their succeeding.  Having the opportunity to offer opinions makes them feel respected, and discussing the role’s expectations sets them up for success because they clearly understand what is expected of them.   

Aim high.  ‘Throw down a challenge,’ is Dale Carnegie’s 21st principle because competition motivates human beings.  Think about what inspires you to go above and beyond both in your personal and professional life.  For example, if you want to lose weight, you most likely set a goal toward which you are working. 

Employees aren’t inspired by minimum job standards; rather they are inspired when they are motivated to attain a goal.  Managers who lead by example in terms of performance and productivity, and those who reveal what top performers do differently, set a high standard.  When they set high standards and clear expectations, employees understand what they need to do differently to model leaders’ and top performers’ best-in-class behaviors.

Navigate strengths.  I don’t know anyone who wants to spend time on tasks in which they lack interest or expertise.  Managers who invest time in learning what comes naturally to team members, their innate strengths, can capitalize on them.  By positioning employees’ unique talents against the tasks at hand, managers increase employee engagement and equally important, employee performance.

To learn more about employee engagement and why it is so very important, download our free employee engagement white paper.

Image: Pixabay


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