How Can You Improve Employee Engagement? Communication is Key.

Last week we wrote about how to create more employee engagement through psychological safety and this week we would like to build on that by exploring the power of communicating clear expectations.

As we highlighted in our last blog, the number one reason employees leave organizations is because of the relationship with their manager.

Did you know that there are a few key areas that encompass employee dissatisfaction with their manager that stretch beyond feeling valued and respected? According to research completed by Custom Insights, employees whose disengagement is related to their manager identified a few common reasons as to why employees are disengaged and the top reason focused on communicating expectations.

Employees felt disengaged with their managers due to poor accountability, communication, direction, and feedback. Managers were not communicating expectations and direction, nor helping employees set goals, or holding people accountable.

The simple truth is successful leaders are great communicators, and this is especially true when how it comes to setting and establishing “performance expectations.” In doing so, they remind their team of the organization’s core values and mission statement and translate that into actionable objectives for their team.

Successful leaders also clearly identify how an employee’s contribution and role connects to the bigger picture so everyone understands how they add value to the team and organization.

Let’s focus in on four simple and effective things you can do to communicate expectations that will help you drive engagement, productivity and results for your organization.  

Four Effective Insights on Communicating Expectations

#1. Communicating expectations is not a one-time event. To establish a culture based on accountability, it is critical that you hold yourself and others accountable. Both formal and informal discussions are required to ensure everyone understands what is expected of them and how you can help support them in their efforts.

#2.  Align performance objectives with people’s strengths and set them up for success not failure. After spending many years in the corporate world, I cannot tell you how many times I have encountered situations where individuals were assigned tasks, projects, or worse, a full-time role that they did not have the skills or experience to fulfill successfully. Your role as a leader is to align people to the overall organization’s objectives and plans – ensure that you have the right fit upfront for all roles, projects and tasks, in order to establish collective success.

#3.  Engage your people in the discussion and ask for open and honest feedback. In my last blog post I talked about how to create an open and safe culture where people felt engaged and willing to share their ideas and insights. The same holds true for expectations and objectives. Why not ask them how they envision achieving the set objectives and expectations?  Ask them what they think is doable and set some goals and deadlines that everyone feels comfortable with. 

#4.  Clearly explain what is expected. The SMART framework – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely – gives you both a reliable process with which to work. In addition to clearly explaining expectations, it is critically important to provide support, coaching and feedback. Be your employees’ biggest advocate and watch their performance soar. When was the last time you asked members of your team what you could do to help them be successful? Ask them what they need and want in order to deliver on what is expected of them. That is a recipe for engagement and high performance.

People underestimate the impact a leader has on their team and overall company. You make the difference and can create a high level of engagement based on your actions. So, when performance and engagement are lacking, ask yourself what you have done to enable employee success. 

What are you doing to drive the level of employee engagement you desire for your team and business? Are you setting clear expectations with your team or engaging them in the discussion?  If you would like to contact me and continue the conversation, I encourage you to send an email to or give me a call at 1.855.871.3374. We look forward to hearing from you!

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