One of the easiest ways of being a manager who's liked by their team is to say yes to any demand they have, and promise them changes when they are concerned about something. This will only get you so far as, unless you have the autonomy to follow through with your promises, they will learn that your word can't be trusted and your team will eventually become alienated from you.
Successful and effective managers recognize that being a leader sometimes means being the least-liked person on the team. Managing the expectations of people will earn you their respect in the long term and they are much more likely to be motivated when you set them targets.
But how can you best manage staff expectations without completely demotivating them? Here are some effective ways that you can achieve this with your team:
1. Regular catch ups
The traditional way of 'checking in' on employees was to have annual appraisals where their performance would be analyzed, but more and more companies are judging this as an ineffective practice. Instead, businesses are turning to regular, low-key chats with their employees to see where they think they are doing well and where they need further support to improve their performance.
These are a great opportunity for you to effectively set and manage their expectations as well. You can understand what their motivations are, and what goals they want to achieve. Once you have these, you can set a realistic timetable for being able to accomplish it and be straight with them about what they can expect.
2. Set intervals
Once you have a clear idea of what it is that matters to each member of your team, you can set intervals where you check their progression. This is an effective way of making sure people understand what's achievable during a certain set period of time, which prevents them from feeling disappointed with their progress further down the line.
It's also a great way to review the work they are doing and help them alter their approach, if necessary, to allow them to achieve their goals. As well as ensuring your employees feel supported, it's an effective way of making sure you are getting the most out of every worker.
3. Always be transparent
The best way to manage expectations is to be straightforward with your team about what is possible or not. Promising them the earth may make them motivated in the short term, but when it doesn't come into fruition, they will lose faith in you as a leader and they will become demotivated.
Even if it's not the best news, be clear with your team about what's achievable or not. This may mean they will be disappointed in the short term, but will understand the timeframe you give them is accurate and reliable.