As a team leader or manager, the responsibility of ensuring smooth team collaboration falls onto you. Individual skills and talents play a role, but they won’t translate into success if the team can’t work together.

But before anything else, ask yourself: do you know what you are expecting from your team?

Without clearly defined team expectations, things can get complicated. There’s no easy way to measure success and evaluate employee performance on a good day, let alone without standards everyone has agreed on.

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The importance of managing expectations for employees

When your team doesn’t know what you’re expecting from them, they also don’t know the direction they should be going. Transparency is essential to being a good leader.

Even if they have the talent and experience to do their job properly, they’d still be running around in circles if what they’re supposed to work on isn’t 100% clear. And according to Qualtrics, one of the challenges in employee engagement is a low percentage of employees with knowledge of their company’s goals.

In other words, managing employee expectations is essential to growth — both for your team and your business as a whole.

Here are five things you could do to make sure you get it right.

1. Communicate clearly and frequently

Whether you’re working in an office or a distributed team, you won’t be able to make progress without communicating with each other. Communication is key, and it’s where you should begin when setting expectations with your team.

Communicate what you’re counting on them to do as early as during the onboarding process. Should they report every task they complete? Is there a set amount of time in which they should be able to reply to emails?

Having a plan makes communication much easier and saves a lot of time for both sides. Read about best team communication strategies here.

2. Create documents for roles and responsibilities

Everyone in your team should be fully aware of their responsibilities. Remember, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

Just one person in your team can trigger a sequence of complications if they fail to deliver. Let your team know about their obligations, and make sure they understand the importance of their work to the whole organization.

A great way to do this is by creating a document that describes their role in the company in detail. This is helpful for when your team needs a quick refresher, and when onboarding new people to the company.

3. Explain the importance of being efficient with time

Showing up to work everyday is one thing, but making good use of their time is another. Time at work should be dedicated to only work-related things.

Your team needs to know that every minute counts, and that you will be making efforts to measure their productivity. The sooner your team understands that the way they use their time at work is important to you, the better.

One of the best ways to increase productivity is to track the total time they have worked, reference that against the tasks they have accomplished, and have a talk with them about improvements you think they can make.

4. Set hours for working all together

Remote teams are known for the ability to work anytime they want, while there are also some offices that allow their employees to come to the office at their own schedules.

In any case, working together at the same time has its benefits, and you should consider requiring your team to work at least a few specific hours in the day. Each individual has their own active hours, but even a few hours of overlap can give a big boost to productivity.

5. Make everyone feel part of the team

Last but definitely not least, your team should be willing to work with each other. Let them know that if any of them ever needs help, you and everyone else will be more than happy to lend a hand. The key is to make everyone feel welcome and needed for team-wide success.

Zappos is a great example of a company that values employee engagement. New hires go through a five-week training course about the company culture and values, after which they are offered $2,000 to leave if they don’t feel like it’s a good place for them.

This helps ensure that employees are comfortable from the beginning, which contributes to their growth within the company.

Teamwork is good for everyone in the group, regardless of size or the type of work. Develop a team bond and encourage personal connections. Everyone in the team — and the business — will benefit from it.

Boost team success with Hubstaff

One of the most reliable methods of measuring team productivity is using apps that can accurately track how they make use of their time. This is what Hubstaff can do, and much more.

Once your team starts using Hubstaff, it tracks the time your team spent working on tasks, monitors the apps they used and the sites they visited, and automates payroll so you can focus on growth instead of management.

Even better, Hubstaff’s reporting and invoicing features make billing clients hassle-free. You can either create invoices and send them to your clients manually, or let Hubstaff generate them automatically based on the bill rate and hours worked.

What is your approach to managing work expectations?

Expectations often come with a bit of pressure. And while this may sound like a negative thing, it’s actually beneficial to business growth and your team’s performance.

After putting together a talented team, the next step is helping them make the most out of their own unique skills. The key is to make sure that you and your team are on the same page when it comes to these expectations so that you can all grow together.

Confusion is often the first step toward disagreements, which very rarely does your business any good. If your team knows what you’re expecting from them, it will be easier for them to perform at their best.

What about you? How do you deal with employee expectations? Do you create lists of performance goals and objectives, or perform weekly or monthly check-ups? Let us hear in the comments below.

Hubstaff Infographic 5 Keys to Managing Remote Team Expectations

This post was originally published in February, 2017. It was updated by the Hubstaff blog team in September, 2019.