Setting Expectations for Delegated Tasks

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Setting expectations for delegated tasks is necessary for ensuring that the desired results are achieved in a productive and positive manner. This lesson will review how managers can set clear expectations for tasks that are assigned to their staff.

Setting Expectations and Delegation

It's 8 a.m. on a Thursday morning. You're at your desk with a cup of coffee in hand. You open up your email and see that Jim has sent you something. You think, ''Great! He has finished the report I asked him to do.'' However, it has taken him 3 weeks to complete it, and upon reviewing it, it's a far cry from what you were expecting. There is pertinent information missing and information you didn't ask for. As you raise your palm to your forehead, you ask yourself, what went wrong?

If you've experienced a situation like this, then you understand the importance of setting clear expectations for tasks that are delegated to your staff. Delegation, the act of assigning another person the responsibility of performing a task, can be a glorious thing - if it's done right. It can boost you and your staff's productivity by distributing the workload and making the best use of everyone's strengths and time. It can help motivate your staff and build competence. But if it's done poorly, the results can be counterproductive and generally, not cool. Setting expectations play a huge role in delegating effectively. This lesson explains how to set clear expectations for delegated tasks. Let's begin!

What are Expectations?

In the broadest sense, expectations are simply the things that you anticipate to happen. When we talk about expectations for a delegated task, we need to think about what the expectations are for the final results, timeline, and communication.

For instance, if you delegate ''complete this report'', that doesn't convey very much about your expectations for the assigned task. However, if you delegate by saying ''complete this report listing all staff expenses incurred last month by next Monday morning, and please email it to me'', your expectations are clearer.

So, how do we set clear expectations?

Setting Expectations Starts With Planning

Setting clear expectations begins with planning. It's important to take time to think about the task objectives and all expectations for that task. It must be clear in your mind first before it can be clear to others. After all, if you can't explain it to yourself, how can you explain it to your staff? Thus, ensuring you have a good understanding of the expectations is the first essential step.

Additionally, you must also understand the reasons for the expectations. It will provide context to help your staff understand the importance of getting the task done. For instance, the report delegated to Jim will help management determine the company's future budget.

Once you have done these two things, the next step is to plan how you wish to deliver the task. Obviously, the goal is to communicate in the most effective manner, so think about what you want to say, how to say it, and when to say it. The information should flow in a logical manner that will be easy to follow and understand. We'll talk more about communication in the next section.

Setting Expectations Requires Communication

Effective communication is vital when delegating tasks. People can't read your mind, so you must communicate in one way or another. When setting expectations for an assigned task, it's important to do so at the onset when delivering that task to your staff. Some points that will ensure effective communication are:

1. Set up a meeting. This is a great way to help both you and your staff prepare, plus, your discussion will take place in a more quiet setting away from distractions. Meeting face to face is ideal; however, it is not always necessary especially if the task is simple. For example, large tasks should be discussed in person, while small tasks (such as entering data into a form) can be delegated over email.

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