Align Performance Expectations with Reality 

Published on January 26, 2020.

Adjusting our expectations for performance and productivity doesn't mean lowering our expectations. Instead, it means acknowledging the challenges that we've faced and offering feedback and support with grace and compassion to those we supervise, as well as ourselves.

Feature Insight

Align Performance Expectations with Reality

Expectation (noun): the degree of probability that something will happen. A year ago, no one expected that a majority of faculty and staff would be working from home for ten months (and counting), schools would be closed and children would participate in virtual lessons, or that wearing masks would be required in public places. Instead, we expected to come to work to continue the progress and practices that we had built and maintain a steady flow of productivity. At the end of a long week we would head out for a Friday night dinner and a movie at the cinema. 
Despite all of today’s challenges we have persevered, become more resilient, and shown great innovation and adaptability. As a new year begins, take a moment to examine your expectations for yourself and others and make adjustments to align them with the challenges and state of our world. 

  • Proceed with empathy. It’s important to recognize the challenges that you and many employees have faced during this last year. If ever there was a time, now is when it’s important to see yourself as having merged identities rather than compartmentalized “work” or “life” identities. For example, parents or caregivers who are doing their best to care for their loved ones while carrying out their work at the University, rather than an employee during the day and a caregiver on nights and weekends. Listen, learn, and adjust, when possible, to the specific needs and preferences of your employees. Remember to offer yourself that same compassion and grace.
  • Adjust goals. With changing priorities and ways of working, the goals you set last year have likely shifted. Regularly revisit those goals in light of the current circumstances and make adjustments to their scope and timing or eliminate them altogether. Realistic and relevant goals provide focus, measure progress, and develop important skills and behaviors. For some teams, the pandemic has provided new clarity, purpose, and a stronger sense of meaning for their work.
  • Emphasize values and culture. Use your team meetings and one-on-one conversations to reinforce your team’s values and culture, such as communication, initiative, and teamwork. Talk about how those values are reflected in your team’s work style. For example, if teamwork is important, remind your team of instances when they exhibited strong teamwork practices and encourage them to continue that practice.
  • Be transparent. Share your own struggles and challenges, and allow time and space for your team to share as well. Authenticity and transparency are contingent upon vulnerability. Vulnerability is also key to building trust and security. Much of the future is still unknown and being transparent also means that if questions arise about continued or additional pay cuts or perhaps future layoffs, remind them you’ll be as transparent as possible.

Many colleges and units have begun or will soon begin to conduct annual performance evaluations. When it’s time to conduct performance evaluations, consider these things as you write and deliver the evaluation. Also take a look at this additional performance evaluation guidance.

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Apply for the Online Facilitated Supervisory Development Course

The Online Facilitated Supervisory Development Course is a unique opportunity to continue your learning and development as a leader. During the 11-week course you’ll build awareness of your strengths and areas for development through assessments, reflection exercises, and group discussions. You’ll also deepen your knowledge of skills and best practices for supervision during guided instruction. Finally, you’ll create a plan to continue to grow your skills beyond the program.

Applications for the course will be accepted from February 17—March 3. Learn more about the course and application process.