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The Art of Communicating Expectations to Employees

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So you've hired a new assistant manager. Now what? Setting expectations and fully informing them about what is expected of them in their job would be a good start. Remember, you cannot rightly and fairly hold employees accountable if you do not make your expectations known from the beginning.

But how can these expectations be effectively communicated? And how can you set rules without dominating the work process?

As it turns out, these expectations can be communicated through several channels, and we've got a few tips from our publication Human Resource Management in Local Government: An Essential Guide.

The Art of Communicating Expectations to Employees

1. Code of Ethics

Ethics codes help to communicate organizational norms and expectations for people who work both inside and outside government. Codes reflect your organization's collective consciousness and specify what is good or bad and right or wrong in an organization's behavior. Codes can provide a framework for analyzing decision alternatives, encourage high standards of behavior, offer a basis for evaluating performance, strengthen organizational identity and commitment, and increase public confidence.

2. Personnel Policy Manual

Employers should provide all employees with a handbook or manual that specifies in writing all personnel policies and rules. The handbook establishes a reciprocal set of responsibilities for employer and employee. It tells employees what is expected of them in the workplace and what they can expect from their employer in terms of fair treatment. The policies contained in the employee manual should be repeatedly communicated to employees through various verbal and written channels, such as the orientation meetings for new hires and periodic memos to all staff. Contents of a manual can include:

  • At-will employment disclaimer and acknowledgement form
  • Benefits attached to employment (pension, health insurance, life insurance)
  • Employee records, access, confidentiality/privacy/application of open-records laws
  • Code of ethics
  • Work rules

3. Job Interviews

Some policies in the employee manual and ethics code may need to be communicated to a job candidate in his or her interview. These would include, for instance, provisions that require an employee to live within the city. Most candidates are informed of an agency's equal employment opportunity policy during the initial interviews. And a candidate who may have a spouse should be informed of the agency's nepotism policies.

4. Orientation

A new employee's job orientation session should thoroughly familiarize the new hire with the company's workplace policies and ethics rules. Both the human resource director and supervisors under whom the employee will be working should be involved in the orientation; the presence of the supervisors shows a new employee that these managers are ready to answer any questions and help him or her succeed. 

5. Supervisors

Supervisors play an important role in communicating expectations to employees and represent the authority of their parent organizations and are charged with maintaining a productive and safe work environment. They therefore need to direct and control the conduct of employees through verbal guidance, written comments, rewards, and discipline. 

Tips for successfully communicating expectations to employees
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