Setting expectations is the one core goal of clear communication. From the perspective of a manager to a direct report, it’s about “what I expect from you” and “what you can expect from me”. And how those two messages are shared as the work evolves.
Managers must be clear about “what I expect from you” to the team. The stigma of manager forcing teams to work can let young managers shy away from that conversation. Establishing clear expectations is essential for team work and ensure personal growth for individuals. Some expectations are across the team, and these rooted in shared engineering principles, and even though sometimes we might think we are stating the obvious, consistently stating the same message, even it is obvious, results in a consistent culture.
Some expectations are more customized to individuals because everyone is different in their life and career. To establish those expectations, managers and direct reports should have open conversations, to seek common understanding first, and then take time to arrive at a conclusion or action plan. For example, one form of this is working on a personal growth plan based on current engineer’s level.
As just important, managers should openly share “what you can expect from me” when talking to their team. Many managers publish their working styleguide (e.g. “working with me” article) in public, this is a great practice because by writing such styleguide, it encourages managers to explore and reflect on how they work.