expectation setting activity

5 Creative Expectation Setting Activity For All Managers

As a manager, it’s essential to set clear expectations with your team to ensure everyone is on the same page and working towards common goals. But setting expectations can be easier said than done, especially when dealing with diverse employees with varying skill sets and personalities.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss the importance of expectation setting in the workplace and provide examples of what managers should expect from their team members and what employees should expect from their managers. We’ve also included effective expectation setting activity to help you set expectations collaboratively and engagingly. Finally, we’ll provide tips for effective expectation setting to help you and your team succeed.

What is Expectation Setting?

Have you ever been to a soccer game? If yes, have you seen how, before the game starts, the coach tells the players the strategy, who is supposed to defend and attack, and what the goal is? This helps the player know what to do and how to play to win the match.
The role of a manager is similar to that of a coach regarding expectation setting. Managers are responsible for telling the team what to do, the deadlines, and how the project should look. This way, everyone understands what’s expected, and they can work together effectively. Expectation setting is like creating a roadmap to success, showing the path with do’s and don’ts.

Why is Expectation Setting important for Managers?

Expectation setting is crucial for managers because it creates clarity, reduces confusion, and boosts team productivity. When managers clearly define goals, roles, and deadlines, team members know what’s expected of them. This clarity prevents misunderstandings and ensures everyone is on the same page, leading to smoother workflow and better results.
Imagine planning a road trip without a map or directions. Expectation setting provides that roadmap for employees. It helps them understand the destination (goals) and the route (tasks) to reach there. Managers who set clear expectations empower their teams to work more confidently, fostering a positive work environment and enhancing overall team performance.

Examples of Expectations in the Workplace

Before working on setting expectations, let us begin with understanding forms of expectations in the workplace. Then, here are some examples to help you understand these expectations in a better way.

Expectations of managers from employees:

  • Meeting deadlines and delivering high-quality work
  • Being proactive and taking initiative
  • Being accountable for their actions and decisions
  • Demonstrating good communication and teamwork skills
  • Continuously learning and developing their skills
  • Representing the company in a positive manner

Employee’s expectations from managers:

Team expectations:

  • Communicating effectively and openly with each other
  • Working collaboratively to achieve team goals
  • Being reliable and accountable to each other
  • Being respectful and supportive of each other
  • Being open to feedback and willing to learn from mistakes
  • Celebrating successes and recognizing contributions

5 Fun and Effective Expectation Setting Activity for Managers

#1 Role-playing Exercises

In this expectation setting activity, managers can create scenarios that represent everyday workplace situations, such as dealing with an upset customer, addressing a conflict with a coworker, or delivering a presentation to a client. Then, employees can act out the scenario and discuss how they could have handled it differently. For example, when an employee is dealing with an upset customer, the employee can practice active listening and problem-solving skills while demonstrating empathy toward the customer.

Find more: Role Play Training at Work: 7 Effective Tips + Sample Situations

#2 Collaborative Goal-Setting

This expectation setting activity involves setting individual and team goals together. The manager can facilitate a team meeting where employees discuss their strengths and areas of improvement and then identify goals that align with the team’s objectives. For example, a team of sales representatives may set a goal to increase sales by 10% in the next quarter. This activity encourages collaboration and ensures everyone works towards the same objectives.

Read more: Collaborative goal-setting: How to achieve team success?

#3 Strengths-based Exercises

In this expectation setting activity, employees identify their strengths and discuss how they can use those strengths to benefit the team. For example, an employee who excels in analytical thinking can use their skills to analyze data and provide insights to the team. In contrast, employees who excel in relationship-building can use their skills to strengthen relationships with clients and stakeholders. This activity helps employees understand their unique contributions and how to use their strengths to achieve team goals.

#4 “Expectation Pyramid” activity

This activity involves creating a visual “expectation pyramid” that outlines the expectations for employees at each level of the organization. For example, there may be expectations for punctuality and attendance at the base of the pyramid. At the same time, there may be expectations for leadership, decision-making, and strategic thinking at higher levels. Employees can work together to identify the expectations for each level and discuss how to meet and exceed them.

#5 360-degree feedback

In this expectation setting activity, employees receive feedback from their peers, subordinates, and superiors. This feedback can help employees understand how others perceive them and set expectations for areas where they need to improve. For example, an employee may receive feedback that they need to improve their communication skills or their ability to work collaboratively with others. In addition, this activity promotes a culture of openness and transparency and encourages employees to work together to achieve common goals.

By the way, 360 degree feedback becomes easier with the help of AI. Check out the range of leadership skill assessments by Risely to get feedback from your team on your core skills as a manager.

Effective Expectation Setting Template for a Manager (Free)

As a manager, setting clear expectations for your team members is essential. And effective expectation setting is crucial for creating a positive work environment, fostering teamwork, and achieving organizational objectives. The following tips make a great expectation setting template which can help managers set clear, achievable expectations that motivate and inspire employees to perform at their best.

  1. Be clear and specific: When setting expectations, it’s essential to be clear and specific about what is expected of employees. This includes outlining goals, deadlines, and the level of quality expected.
  2. Communicate expectations clearly: Managers should communicate expectations clearly to employees in an easily understandable way. They should also be available to answer any questions and provide clarification.
  3. Be realistic: Expectations should be realistic and achievable. Setting unrealistic expectations can lead to frustration, burnout, and decreased employee morale.
  4. Feedback: Managers should provide regular feedback to employees to ensure they meet expectations. This can include positive feedback to reinforce good performance and constructive feedback to address areas where improvement is needed.
  5. Be consistent: Expectations should be consistent across all employees to ensure fairness and avoid confusion. Managers should also consistently enforce expectations and address deviations from them.
  6. Involve employees in the process: Involving them in the expectation setting process can help ensure they are invested in and committed to achieving the goals. This can also help identify potential roadblocks and ensure everyone works towards the same objectives.
  7. Celebrate success: When employees meet or exceed expectations, managers should recognize and celebrate their achievements. This helps reinforce positive behavior and motivates employees to continue performing at a high level.


Expectation setting is a crucial part of effective management. It sets the tone for what you expect from your team and what they can expect from you. Establishing clear expectations allows everyone to work together towards common goals and objectives. The expectation setting activity mentioned above are fun and highly effective in setting expectations that align with your team’s goals. Remember to keep communication open and revisit the expectations regularly to adjust as needed. As a manager, investing time in expectation setting is crucial to help your team grow and succeed.

Can you set the right expectations for your team?

Find out now with the help of a free expectation setting assessment for managers and leaders.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an example of setting expectations?

An example of setting expectations is communicating the goals and objectives for a project or task. This involves discussing deadlines and timelines for completing work, defining roles and responsibilities for team members, and establishing key performance indicators. Regular check-ins and feedback sessions ensure that expectations are met, allowing for adjustments to keep everyone on track toward achieving the desired outcomes. Setting clear expectations is crucial for ensuring a successful product and maintaining accountability.

What is expectation setting?

Expectation setting establishes clear, specific, and realistic goals for employees or team members. This involves communicating what is expected of them regarding performance, behavior, and results. Effective expectation setting can increase productivity, job satisfaction, and morale. It is essential for managers to regularly review and adjust expectations to ensure they align with changing circumstances, such as organizational changes or individual employee needs. This can help ensure everyone is working towards the same goals and objectives.

How do you set expectations in training?

To set expectations in training, it is essential to communicate the goals and objectives of the program, as well as provide a detailed outline of the training schedule and curriculum. Setting realistic expectations for trainees based on their skill level and experience is also crucial. Encouraging open communication and feedback throughout the training process can help ensure everyone is on the same page and that any concerns or questions are promptly addressed. By setting clear expectations from the outset, you can maximize the effectiveness of your training program and ensure that everyone involved has a positive experience.

What are some examples of expectations?

Examples of expectations include meeting project deadlines, being punctual, and communicating regularly with team members. In a job setting, expectations may also have specific duties or responsibilities that must be fulfilled. Therefore, it is crucial to communicate expectations to employees clearly to reduce confusion or misunderstandings. In addition, regularly revisiting and updating expectations can ensure everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals.

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