Do I know what is expected of me at work?

This is the second in a series of articles examining the key drivers to engaged and motivated teams.

There are 12 key questions that measure the core elements needed to attract, focus and keep the most talented employees.

The top 6 are:

  1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
  2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
  3. At work do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
  4. In the last 7 days have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
  5. Does my supervisor or someone at work seem to care about me as a person?
  6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?

These questions are in order of impact importance and the first 6 have the greatest impact on managing our people.

The undisputed number 1 is all about Clarity. Do our people know what is expected of them at work? Are they crystal clear about the expectations we place on them as leaders and managers?

I talk to Senior Leaders all day in my role as an Executive and Organisational Coach and I can tell you that the biggest gap between the assumptions of leaders and managers and the troops on the front line is ‘expectations’. I can’t remember the last time that a leader told me that their people were unclear of their role, responsibilities or what was expected of them. This is hardly surprising as to do so would be an acknowledgement that a basic tenet of a leadership role had not been fulfilled.

At the same time team members constantly tell me that they are unclear of the expectations their organisation has of them. Interestingly the more senior a leader becomes the more they focus on principles of behaviour and general outcomes. They see this as clarity whilst the feedback from those at the bottom of the food chain is that they need ‘true clarity’. They define true clarity as very clear guidelines and outcomes that don’t change depending on the time of day and current mood of their leaders.

The current fad of ‘organisational values’ is a great example of this. I personally believe that having a clear set of organisational values is absolutely critical but they must be something more than a poster on a wall at the office. I see some organisations with very strong values that truly permeate across the entire enterprise. I also see many where the view from the top is that they are a values led enterprise but when I talk to team members their view is very different. They talk constantly about the inconsistencies in the applications of these values depending on where you sit in the food chain. It is largely irrelevant if this is an accurate perception from the bottom of the pyramid or not, the mere fact that this perception exists undermines the concept of a ‘values led organisation’.

The concept of these top 6 questions and how they relate to employee engagement is very simple and straightforward. The challenge, however, is that we have built organisations that are unnecessarily complicated and we have over intellectualised our roles as managers and leaders. Create a culture where all of your people can answer yes to the questions above and there will be a material impact to your bottom line, your engagement scores, your customer experience and most importantly as a leader and/or manager your sense of personal satisfaction.

These top 6 are drawn from the book ‘First, Break all the rules’ by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman (1999).

Tim is a Speaker, Executive Coach and Pragmatic Leadership Expert who works with individuals and organisations on delivering results and being more effective.  He can be contacted on or through his website at

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