Employees need to know what is expected of them. This aligns with the safety and trustworthiness principles of Trauma-Informed Supervision. If employees are unsure about expectations or have a sense that the standards keep changing, it is difficult for them to do their job. For new employees, setting expectations begins as part of their onboarding. For existing employees, this should be an ongoing, interactive process between you and your employees.

Citywide Expectations

Citywide expectations were developed by a cross-section of City employees. They are based on the values and service promise in our Performance Excellence framework. These expectations apply to all City of Madison employees.

To learn more about the Citywide expectations:

Position-Specific Expectations

Position-specific expectations are based on the responsibilities of a specific job. They start with an employee’s position description. However, the general list of duties and responsibilities in the position description does not fully communicate expectations. It is a starting point to identify key tasks and responsibilities, and then elaborate on them.

Developing the position-specific expectations can happen through two-way communication with employees. This aligns with the collaboration principle of Trauma Informed Supervision. This also helps you develop realistic expectations and have greater commitment from employees to follow through.

Expectations are developed for each key task or responsibility through the following process.

  1. Identify the task or responsibility
  2. Ask questions like:
    • What does success look like?
    • How is success measured?
    • What rules or policies apply to this task?
    • What Citywide expectations apply?
    • What knowledge, dependability, or productivity do they need to exercise?
      • Knowledge: What industry-specific knowledge is the employee expected to have? Is the employee expected to use, follow, or explain policies and procedures? What level of independent judgment is expected of an employee in this position? Is the employee expected to take initiative, create new procedures or implement new programs?
      • Dependability: Is the employee expected to meet specific deadlines? What is expected in terms of work quality? What is expected in terms of safety? What is a reasonable number of errors?
      • Productivity: How much work is the employee expected to perform in a given period of time? Are there certain times when the workload will change, creating a change in expectations? Is the employee required to seek out additional work when their regular work is completed?
  3. Develop the expectations

Example: “Related to payroll processing, you are expected to submit payroll by Monday of each payroll week. Payroll might start out with an error or two each payroll period, but eventually you should get to a point where errors are only a couple of times per year.”

It is very important that you base these expectations on the requirements of the job and not the abilities of an individual employee. If an expectation is reasonable and job-related, supervisors should not lower it to meet a particular employee’s abilities.

Developing Goals

As position descriptions change, supervisors should ensure all employees have received the necessary training to allow them to perform each of the updated tasks outlined on the position description. You will have an opportunity to develop goals and check on progress in the onboarding process for new employees, and through the employee check-in process. The employee check-in form includes a space for documenting your goal-setting discussion.

When thinking about potential annual, semi-annual, or quarterly goals, think about including:

  • Industry-related professional and technical skill building
  • Key behaviors needing improvement, using a skills gap assessment when necessary
  • Job shadowing or cross-training, or both
  • Leadership Development opportunities
  • Team and project leadership opportunities

Once you’ve developed your goals, use the SMARTE guide to goal-setting to make that goal more specific, measurable, relevant, timely, and equitable.

Set a Meeting to Discuss Expectations and Goals

  1. expectations have been developed, it is important to discuss those expectations with the employee at the time of hire and as expectations change. When holding a meeting with the employee, whether it is an impromptu meeting, employee check-in, or onboarding meeting, keep the following Trauma-Informed Supervision principles in mind:
  • Ensure a safe space
  • Start with the WHY
  • Lean into values and Citywide Expectations
  • Be Specific
  • Offer choice and suggest alternatives

Current employees should have expectations reviewed with them as performance issues arise, when the position description changes significantly, or when expectations have changed due to changes in the direction of the Department. The supervisor should ensure the employee receives a copy of the most recent position description and document the contents of the meeting. The employee should be informed that any questions about expectations should be forwarded to the supervisor, and that the position description establishes the foundation for assessment of performance.

Ongoing support and coaching conversations

These meetings should never substitute for giving timely feedback and ongoing coaching. Having regular, 2-way conversations allows employees to more fully understand the position and supervisors to understand the employee’s perspective. This dialogue allows supervisors to support employees in meeting expectations, and to update their expectations if they learn from their employees that they are not reasonable or realistic.