Sample Expectations for Managers

It’s easy to assume that all the managers in your organization or on your team have a shared understanding of what effective management looks like. But if you don’t discuss it explicitly, there’s likely to be wide variation in “how we do things around here” when it comes to management.

Here’s a sample of what clear, written expectations for managers might look like. You could use these written expectations when training, developing, and evaluating managers – both to create an initial shared understanding of what your expectations are and to assess how well managers are meeting them.


Expectations for Managers

As a manager, you are charged with owning four keys to our success:

1. Building an Exceptional Team

In order to deliver exceptional results, you’ll need to build a high-performing team. That means that you should:

  • Recruit, recruit, recruit! Attract, identify, and hire great people, and build an active pipeline of talent, even when you have no open positions.
  • Retain high-performing staff members (which includes everything from ensuring that great employees have meaningful roles with real responsibility, to creating an environment that great people want to work in, to making retention a priority).
  • Give clear and actionable feedback that helps people get better and better at what they do (including meaningful praise and candid discussion of what they could do better).
  • Address performance issues forthrightly and transition out staff members who aren’t performing at a high level.

2. Setting Vision and Goals

To deliver exceptional results, we need everyone aligned about what success looks like and how we’ll know it when we see it. That means that you should:

  • Establish, with your staff, clear outcome-based goals capturing what success looks like for your team and for individual staff members, and ensure that plans are in place for meeting those goals.
  • Draw clear lines from the work of your team and individual staff members to the big priorities of [ORG].
  • Ensure that goals truly drive the day-to-day work of your team. 

3. Managing Execution

In order to ensure that goals are translated into action and lead to results, you’ll need strong day-today management practices. That means you should:

  • Monitor progress against goals on an ongoing basis, ensuring that course corrections are made as needed. (At a minimum, we do goals step-backs quarterly, but you might do them more often.)
  • In assigning specific pieces of work, get aligned with staff members up-front about what you want achieved.
  • Stay engaged over the course of the work: Check in, review interim work, take “slices,” and otherwise get your hands dirty in order to see how work is progressing (before it’s too late).
  • Debrief work once it’s done in order to draw lessons and hold staff members accountable for results.

4. Being an Organizational Leader

As a manager at [ORG], you’re part of our leadership team. That means that you should:

  • Be an exemplar of our core values throughout your work.
  • Proactive raising issues and questions (and bringing solutions to the table when you can).
  • Make decisions with openness and fairness, seeking staff input whenever possible.
  • Keep staff members informed about the organization (and bring staff into organization-wide decision-making).
  • Stand behind the organization’s decisions and work ardently toward their realization, even if you would have chosen a different direction.
  • Operate and advocate from the perspective of what makes sense for [ORG], rather than just for your own team.


Sample Management Goals

Just as organizations should have goals not only around the specific results they aim to achieve but also around ensuring that those results are sustainable in the long-term, so should managers. So in addition to goals that represent the most important results her team is working toward, a manager might also have goals around the management of her team or its makeup. For example: 

  • 4 out of 5 high-performers commit to staying two more years.
  • Resolve Jose situation (coach to higher performance or transition out).
  • Start holding biweekly debriefing meetings so that we get better at what we do.
  • Develop Leah’s skills to the point that she can serve as a media spokesperson with minimal guidance.
  • By April 30, all low-performing staff will either have raised their performance significantly or moved on.