Setting Your Team’s Expectations

Greg Thomas


I was talking with someone a few months ago about a new team we were working with and they asked if I was going to set out the expectations I had for us as a group.

My answer was instant — “Yes of course, I want to sit down, get their input, talk about what I want and what they want, and through that ensure we’re all onboard.”

I didn’t think there was anything new about this but apparently, this had been a big challenge in the past with people not being sure what was expected of them.

I could see the problems in that.

What are your Expectations?

I like to start here, what do I want and need from the team? What do I like, what do I not like, how do I want us to approach problems, what do we do when things go sideways?

Essentially, how do I want us to operate and succeed? Every manager who has led any number of teams has their own playbook as to what does and doesn’t work but also how they operate. It’s not only about telling the team what you want to see but also understanding who you are and what you bring to the team.

What are their expectations of you?

If it is a team that has struggled with past leadership, an experienced team, or a brand new team brought together, all those team members know what they want to see from you as a manager. It might not be as succinct as you like to think, but it is there, lingering between the lines.

“Keep Support and PM off my back” → Why does PM/Support need to keep coming to us?

“I want to take on more?” → Great, so what steps have been taken?

“Please be honest with us…” → Trust will not come easy.

We need someone who doesn’t just accept the release schedule as is and helps adjust it based on concerns we have… aaaah… they need someone to stand up for them.

Through all these statements and layers, you are finding out what your team needs and wants, not only from you but also from each other. You might have some individual follow-ups, but at first pass, you want to do this with the entire team together, you want ideas bouncing off one another, them, you, back to you, back to them — this is…



Greg Thomas

Software Architect, Developer, Author and Leader helping organizations build scalable software delivery teams and implement cloud-based solutions