A Leading Perspective

Pragmatic insights for the leader in you

You Know What They Say About Assumptions

I recently taught a class on Performance Management and, like in many previous classes, I was amazed to learn that most supervisors don’t take the time to talk to their employees about what is expected of them.



Craziness, I know…but many supervisors are simply assuming the employee knows what to do, how to do it, who to do it with, etc.

You know what they say about assumptions.


A Supervisor’s job, among other things, is to direct, lead, monitor and manage the work.  He/she hopefully has the right staffing levels or other resources to ensure the work gets done well but trust me, he/she could have twice the amount of resources necessary and would still fail if expectations were not communicated! 


Performance Management is a cyclical process and includes:


  • Communicating roles and responsibilities
  • Communicating standards that need to be met
  • Communicating how the standards will be measured
  • Monitoring the performance and communicating how to the employee is doing compared to the standard
  • Providing resources and/or adjustments (and communicating accordingly)
  • Celebrating success and/or reinforcing the standard


Good supervisors pro-actively engage with their employees throughout this process!

They don’t leave things to chance, they don’t rely upon someone else filling the employee in, they don’t wait until the employee figures it out on his/her own, and they certainly don’t discipline or otherwise chastise an employee for not performing well when the fact is, he/she failed to communicate what was expected in the first place!


By the way, Human Resources professionals play a key role in this process!


We should be coaching our supervisors to ensure they are able to communicate clear and concise expectations and standards.

We should be helping our supervisors facilitate discussions with the employees about objective and realistic performance standards and measurements.

We should be helping our supervisors identify development opportunities for staff.

We should be mentoring our supervisors in the areas of constructive feedback and recognition.

We should be facilitating a fair and just process for determining if discipline, demotions or other administrative actions are to occur.

In other words, HR Professionals should not make assumptions about what the supervisor knows either!


Cuz you know what they say about assumptions.


CommunicationsEmployee RelationsFairnessGood FaithHuman ResourcesLeadershipPerformance ManagementRole of HR

Heather Kinzie • October 29, 2012

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