Tuesday, October 13, 2009

10 Things Every Leader Should Know About Employee Expectations

One of the most challenging concepts for most leaders to understand is that employees all have different things they want and expect from their jobs. The natural tendency is to assume that everyone wants what we want; an opportunity to excel, be creative, take risks, and lead an organization. The truth is that people all expect very different things from their jobs and have different values. I’m sure that you have seen bright, talented people join an organization, only to have them fail because they didn’t fit in. This is often caused by a mismatch between what they value in a job and what their boss or company expects from them.

Below are 10 key areas that can help define what a particular employee wants and values in their job. Take note that, while there is no right or wrong viewpoint as to what an employee should expect, there may be a mismatch between an employee's expectations and what your company is offering to, and expecting from, their employees.

Look over the list below and see what you value. Then look at what your company values to see if they are in synch. If they are, enjoying your job is much easier. If they are not, you likely struggle to go to work each day.

Here’s the list:

1. Autonomy - Does this employee want the freedom to make decisions about how to do their job? Do they want to work in an environment where they have a lot of input into what their work goals are and how those goals can be met? Or do they prefer an environment where they can just look at the procedures that exist and follow them to the letter? Will a substantial amount of rules and regulations stifle their creativity or make them feel safe and secure?

2. Work/Life Balance – Does this employee place substantial emphasis on their personal time outside of the office? Or is this employee looking to climb the career ladder by sacrificing their personal time for more money, more prestige, or a bigger office? Will the newest challenge you have laid out for them motivate them to new heights or will it send them scurrying to the job boards, anxious to find a job that will allow them to work strictly 9 to 5?

3. Career and Job Growth - What kind of career goals does this employee have? Are they looking for ever-increasing responsibilities with the promise of ongoing promotions through management to “Executive Row”? Or do they want the kind of job where they can go to work each day and not face the pressure to excel? Are they content with what they are doing or are they looking for that next step?

4. Cultural and Social Diversity – Is it important to this employee to work with a variety of people with different cultural and social backgrounds? Do they value a wide range of diverse ideas and thoughts? Or do they prefer a safer environment where everyone looks, acts, and believes much the way they do? Will differing viewpoints lead to creativity or conflict?

5. Social and Physical Environment - Is this employee looking for a work environment where they can make friends, personalize their workspace, and enjoy the view from the office? Or would this employee prefer to work alone, viewing their workspace as a place where work is done, separate from any personal thoughts or ideas? Is the job the job, regardless of their physical surroundings?

6. Creative Expression - Does the employee value a place where their creativity and ability to be themselves is encouraged and rewarded? Does the employee prefer to just blend in with their co-workers, following the rules, and limiting their need to change things in the organization?

7. Recognition – Does the employee value public recognition of their work and acknowledgement for their achievements? Or do they prefer not to stand out from the crowd? Will a public acknowledgement of achievement fuel this employee to new heights? Or would they prefer a more personal and thoughtful, private “thank you” for their efforts?

8. Stability - How important is job security and stability to this employee? Would they prefer that their job and work environment be steady and unchanging? Or does this employee value their personal freedom and welcome the challenges and opportunities of new roles?

9. Job Structure – Does this employee require clear instructions on what to do, how to do it, and when it should be done? Or would they prefer a job where the outcome is defined, but the method to get there is not? Do they prefer to be measured on how well they do each step in their job process? Or strictly be measured based on the finished results?

10. Teamwork – Does this employee value a collaborative work environment where many people are involved in working together to create a specific output? Or would they rather work in a job where they, and they alone, are responsible for the final product? Do they prefer to work in an environment that values team achievements and the sharing of new ideas and concepts? Or would they prefer to be measured on their personal efforts, regardless of what others do around them?

The answers to these questions may be obvious to you. In fact, I hope they are obvious to you. But not everyone values the same things, and not everyone works the same way. Placing a person who values structure, team play, and limited responsibility into an environment that is highly results oriented, focuses on individual contribution, and has a high ceiling for growth can cause enormous dysfunction for that individual, regardless of how smart or talented they are.

At ECI Learning Systems, we measure each employee’s expectations with respect to their current work environment. This helps us uncover disparities and improve employee productivity.

If you found this message helpful, I would encourage to you pass it along to your friends and co-workers and encourage them to subscribe to the Fusion™ Blog as well.

Until next time…..

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems, LLC

No comments:

Post a Comment