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Part one of this post explored leadership strategies to improve employee morale and retention. Getting feedback from your team emerged as a valuable tool in that process. This post will cover evolving your corporate culture by setting expectations for both employees and colleagues as a way to build trust and accountability.

Clear Expectations

It can be easy to create a list of the behaviors we want others to exhibit, but tougher when we have to declare the same for ourselves. The following are examples of commitments that could be modified for your own professional environment, and made as quantifiable as possible:

  • Go to the Source: I will have the courage to respectfully confront (to provide feedback) and be confronted (to receive feedback). I will provide you with honest guidance regarding your performance on a consistent basis, and do so in a private environment.
  • Career Path Blueprint: I will provide a career path with quantifiable benchmarks, and educate you as to the vision I have for you and your contribution. I will see potential in you that you may not yet see in yourself, and remain committed to your professional development.
  • Mutual Accountability: In service of your long-term potential, I will hold you accountable to doing the things you said you would do. I will invite feedback consistently about my leadership abilities, our team’s dynamic, and how things can improve.
  • Timely Response: I will respond to all emails promptly and will not cancel standing meetings unless there is a true emergency or unavoidable last-minute conflict.
  • Consistency: I will have times of being intensely focused on a project and be unavailable at times, but I will not allow myself to have any passive/aggressive or “bad days.” You can count on my consistency as a leader and colleague.

Two-Way Street

Create the same list of commitments for employees, and consider asking current staff to help devise the list of things they want in teammates. The expectations could include things like desired behaviors, time in office, work ethic, and required results. Any other guidelines that allow an employee to know they are meeting expectations is helpful. Resist the urge to simply say “I’ll know a job well done when I see it” – if you can’t articulate expectations clearly, employees will never know if they’ve achieved them. This is when a disconnect happens, and the foundation of the relationship begins to crack. Having this two-way street in effect will improve morale and retention.

What happens when an expectation is not met? Give both sides permission to approach the other when this happens. When it does, there is the opportunity to engage in additional dialogue and share relevant information that may shift the perspective of the situation. There is also the opportunity to course correct immediately, as sometimes we don’t realize an issue exists until an outside party points it out! Choose to foster, and demonstrate to employees, an environment of high accountability and expectations of one another. Having this plan in place will help with retention in the long term. The strongest organizations and teams are built by those who honor their commitments.

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