Employment by its very nature requires that managers and supervisors place performance expectations on employees to ensure business success. Very often however, managers are so consumed by what their expectations are for the people that work for them, they often fail to see supervision as a two-way street.

Employees too have important expectations of their employers. Managers who are mindful of those expectations and make an effort to meet appropriate employee expectations do a better job of motivating workers and gaining their trust and respect. The following are 10 things that employees reasonably expect of their supervisors.

Employees expect an answer to the question “What is my job?”

Answering this question entails having a written job description as well as a verbal understanding of job duties and performance standards. It is very difficult to evaluate and reward an employee for performance when performance expectations have not been clearly identified.

Employees want to know the answer to the question “Whom do I report to?”


Reporting to multiple bosses can lead to great frustration for the employee. In addition, performance may suffer if the employee cannot focus on one set of instructions. Also when an employee has more than one immediate supervisor there may be a temptation to play one supervisor against the other to achieve his or her own personal objectives.

Employees want to know how they are doing.

The manager should become a coach and provide continuous feedback to improve job performance. Use of praise and recognition to encourage a positive work ethic is important. Provide feedback to develop a working environment that encourages employee motivation and peak job performance.

Employees want to know the rewards for top performance.

Employers should provide competitive compensation, the opportunity for increased skill development and recognition for top performers. Incentive or bonus programs may also be implemented. In any case the reward should be given in a positive manner and serve to sincerely compensate an employee for a job well done.

Employees want to go with a winning team and expect to be successful.

As a manager of a business it is your responsibility to create an environment of success and high morale. Each employee should work toward common goals. The creativity and knowledge of all employees should be included in planning and decision-making. Employees will feel more committed if their ideas are part of the organization’s success and you take the opportunity to celebrate that success.

Employees want to know where the organization is going.

Clearly defined mission and goals should be written, communicated and understood by all employees. These clearly defined ideas create a vision for how the organization will look in the future. Plans for reaching those goals should be carefully developed and communicated. Managers should create a culture of continuous improvement.

Employees want access to information relating to their work.

Do you have a strong internal communication network? Do employees have easy access to production data and other information relating to their work? For example, if an employee is responsible for cost control then he/she should have access to information on current expenses.

Employees want management’s support, respect and confidence.

Employees want to be treated as valued assets to the business and recognized for their efforts. Managers should show confidence in employee decision-making ability. Use mistakes as teaching opportunities and discuss how problems might be approached in a different fashion in the future. Provide continuous support and encouragement to employees so that they feel confident as they tackle difficult jobs.

People want their employers to recognize that they have a life outside of work.

Flexible hours and time off are two things employees value highly. For example, the flexibility to attend a child’s ball game may be valued more highly than monetary compensation.

People want problem employees dealt with decisively and quickly.

Employees who play by the rules resent their peers who do not and expect that management will not tolerate behavior that takes away from the effectiveness of the business. People want their employers to be fair and consistent with the treatment of all employees.

People are the reason for business success. Spend part of each day looking at ways to fulfill employee expectations and they will be far more likely to help you, as a manager, fulfill yours. PD

Thomas R. Maloney is a Senior Extension Associate in the Department of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University.

Tom Maloney

Senior Extension Associate

Cornell University