Reader Question: Hey, Emily! You talk all the time about setting expectations. I get they are important. But HOW do I actually set expectations?

GREAT question! It can be difficult to set expectations. But it’s worth the effort, I promise.

First, when you set expectations, be really, brutally, painfully honest about what you need and what you want from others.

If you’ve got an ongoing relationship, talk about what’s working — and what’s not — and then also be honest in your feedback.

As your intern or employee starts getting going with a project, let them know right away if something isn’t going well. Then, s-h-o-w them what you want to have done differently.

The sooner that you can kind of catch this and redirect, the better that it’s going to be in the long run.

What happens if you don’t catch-and-redirect? If you go with the “we’ll just let this slide”, your intern or employee won’t know that they are doing anything wrong.

This inaction will leave you just a little bit unhappy with the work that they’re doing.

Bottom Line: make sure to set expectations and give them that honest feedback, good or bad, moving forward.

Second; be really intentional about showing interns and employees examples.

Especially if this is a first experience in a professional setting, the employee might not know how to participate in a meeting. (true story.)

They might not know some of the things that you do either in person or in a Zoom call.

The workplace is very different from what you’re used to in school and team meetings in school.

As a result, you might have to have some conversations or seemingly weird conversations like, “hey, this is how you answer the phone and this is the level of professionalism we expect when you’re answering the phone.”

Or, “these are VIP clients and this is how we maybe treat them a little bit differently than we do some other clients.”

Or “this is like a [specific situation], and this is how we handle this differently than something else.”

Have new employees sit in and listen in on your conversations [be ethical and let the other party know, too…].

This will give the employee a chance to hear, see, and experience the work in a different way. The good news? This will help them as they move forward with you and your organization.

All right, remember that times are still really, really weird.

Be kind to yourself and others and I look forward to connecting with you back here soon. 😀

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