How to Set Expectations for Staff & Drive Company Culture

3 Ways to Set Expectations for Staff

Whenever you hire new team members, you always want to put the best foot forward and set expectations for staff early on so you can hit the ground running as quickly as possible. Onboarding timeframes can vary by industry and role but team training and enablement is an ongoing endeavor.

Businesses grow and change shape over time, and for that very reason, teams need to be kept informed so they can deliver and execute as flawlessly as possible. During the first few days and weeks for any new hire, it’s important to establish a good working relationship which can be built upon over the coming months and hopefully years. Every organization has its processes, systems, and standards which employees must learn, and they all do so at their own pace, some faster than others.

But those are usually written down and shared in a consistent fashion for most new hires. It’s the in-between and unwritten rules, also known as tribal knowledge, that is harder to convey and learn. Conversations around the water cooler, or between team-members at lunch, is where most learning takes place. When you can achieve face-to-face sessions, team bonding has a much better chance of success, and that’s where the cultural norms take shape that drive an organization to succeed.

Challenges arise in many different ways and as a manager or team lead, you need to be proactive and get everyone on the same page around the organization’s cultural norms. We have all experienced the dreaded employee handbook. Many create more interactive ways to engage through video and multiple choice testing so HR compliance can be checked, especially in large global corporations. Let’s take a look at some ways you can set expectations for staff.

1. Clearly Communicate Direction and Strategy

Company-wide meetings can be difficult if you are large with widely dispersed teams. Thanks to great video conferencing, getting virtual ‘facetime’ is much easier than in years past. The challenge is you can’t do a “once and done”. Those same messages need to be conveyed in many different avenues or mediums and we should never assume that a lofty company goal is easily understood by teams on the ground that need to deliver every day.

Let’s take a quick example. One of our customers Vivint, provider of Smart Home services has grown by leaps and bounds over the past several years, now supporting over 10,000 employees. They install and maintain their own products such as smart security systems including cameras and doorbells as well as install products from Google such as the Nest thermostat.

Because of this, they need to continually train and engage teams. Driving adoption of their newer products is no small feat. Unless field service workers know about new and updated products and services, customers won’t be informed and won’t buy. Like any business, top-line revenue goals and growth need to be conveyed to each regional team in a clear, concise way. Ultimately each employee wants to know “what do I need to do in order to help drive that company-wide goal”.

Zinc Broadcast announcement that a new GM is coming onboard; set expectations for staff
Using communication to set expectations for staff.

Corporate goals and metrics need to trickle-down to the smaller regional teams and as long as it doesn’t change on a regular basis, you have some chance of success. At Zinc, we spend a lot of time thinking about how best to convey our direction and strategy and we take every opportunity to reinforce when we see positive results such as a customer win, a new deployment or an industry award from a recognized analyst.

Zinc’s Broadcast capability is a one-to-many message that pops up in the Zinc app. There’s no way you could miss it. In 140 characters you quickly read what the broadcast is about and then click the link to read more. Short digital messages going directly to each employee is a way to reinforce company values and milestones along the way which makes everyone pull together.

2. Encourage Employees to Learn From Each Other

Sometimes there’s no better way to learn than to basically shadow a team member or group of employees who already know the job or exemplify excellence. In fact, many employees love to work with rookies showing him or her the “ropes” while on the job. There’s a different level of satisfaction that comes with that, outside the normal daily tasks.

When large enterprises have thousands of dispersed employees who work alone in the field, employees can’t survive without the help of other team members. If you want to set expectations for staff and enable them to hit key business metrics, you’ve got to reiterate and leverage the collective knowledge of team members. There’s no way each employee can know everything.

Zinc Groups enable teams to work closely, collaborating and helping solve problems or answer questions. Inevitable issues come up and if you have an immediate way to get the help of a peer, a master tech or a group of experts, you are in good shape and can complete the job on time. There’s likely a manual or install guide somewhere on an intranet or shared folder but the time it takes to locate and then read it would take longer than getting an instant answer from an expert. Not only does it drive team connectedness but the training goes way faster.

3. Celebrate Successes to Reinforce Cultural Norms

Sometimes we forget to take a little time out of the busy day to applaud team members that go above and beyond what is expected. These mini celebrations not only matter to the employee but fellow team-members love to see others do well and get the recognition. Our customer Vivint does an excellent job of reinforcing their 5 core values which they have found directly correlate to business metrics being reached over time. Values are no use if they are just wall plaques or sit on a web page for new recruits. They have to be lived each and every day and honored if exemplified.

Zinc has learned through customers that when a team is engaged, understands exactly what is expected of them, and given the respect and support they deserve, good things happen.

It doesn’t have to translate to a monetary payout (which of course we all appreciate) but more often it’s getting called out during a team huddle or a quarterly review session and in the company-wide newsletter that everyone reads on the Zinc Broadcast. It has to be timely, genuine, and match stated company values and goals.