4 Actions Organizations MUST Take To Stem The Expectation Alignment Dysfunction Tide

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In my previous post I shared about the unfortunate workplace condition (Expectation Alignment Dysfunction – EAD) which is affecting organizations and is fast becoming today’s leading killer of employee engagement and a detractor from the employee experience in a number of workplaces.

Expectation alignment is the degree to which employee expectations for their experience in the workplace line up with their actual experience. When those expectations don’t align, EAD springs it’s ugly head.

Besides pointing out some of the causes of this phenomenon, I also shared some of the signs to look out for in order to know that your organization has hit the EAD wave.

It is great to know that EAD does not present an irreversible apocalypse to employers especially if certain measures and actions are taken. These include:

1. Reconcile and clarify experience expectations and performance goals
Grey areas should never be allowed to stay for long at the workplace. Managers should engage with employees to understand their experience expectations and to help them align with the business reality of the day. In the same way managers should state in black and white what their performance expectations on the employees are.

Let the day to day workplace activities take place in an environment of clarity and understanding with no surprises.

2. Embrace and encourage intentional organization language/narrative
To deal with EAD it is important to recreate the language and tone at the workplace. Find out whether what is being said means the same across all levels and grades of employees.

The language used in certain written documents could inflate expectation by over promising beyond what it meant or what can be delivered. It could also create fear and uncertainty in employees.

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Simple plain and direct talk across the organization (and during the recruitment process) will do great justice in creating a unblemished atmosphere where employees can easily align their expectations with the firm’s.

3. Constant employee pulse checks:
Workplace managers in conjunction with HR have a responsibility that is always ignored; checking out what employees and team members are feeling/thinking and the picture they have about the expected employee experience.

Unfortunately many organizations have institutionalized an annual employee survey program which in itself gives results that are a smoke screen of the real issues. The annual surveys are also influenced heavily by the “recency” factor.

To stem the EAD tide, Managers should consistently talk to their team members openly and honestly. They should conduct regular informal surveys and create confidential feedback channels to encourage staff to give regular and candid opinions.

4. Cultural re-calibration
In certain organizations, EAD is caused by cultures that encourage unrealistic and irrational expectations from employees.

Every aspect of organizational culture, systems and processes that encourage such inaccurate expectations should be addressed and reviewed immediately. Senior individuals whose actions perpetuate the same should be discouraged and asked to embrace a different narrative that will help employees have realistic expectation about their experiences.

If addressed intentionally and at the right time, Expectation Alignment Dysfunction can be nipped in the bud and the organization will live to see the wonderful fruit of an engaged workforce whose experience expectations are real and to a large extent can be met by the organization.

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