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Unclear expectations cause 95% of problems at work.

Here's a simple playbook for managers and employees to get on the same page:
If you're the manager:

Setting expectations is your only job.

If your team doesn't know what you expect, you're failing them. And despite great effort, chances are they're letting you down.

The vicious cycle of frustration builds.
And if that's the case, there can only be three causes:
- You're not managing your boss well
- You're incapable of making a decision
- You're hoping people will read your mind
To manage up:
- Have a dashboard of agreed goals + progress
- Also, know your team's capacity/utilization
- When your boss asks for more, be clear on what drops

You're a manager, not a magician.
To make a decision:
- If it fits your goals & capacity -> do it
- If it's easily undone -> make a call
- If it's ambiguous -> run a test
- If it could ruin you -> get help

99% of your fears are bigger in your mind than reality.
To make expectations explicit:
- Agree on the What & When (SMART or OKRs both work)
- Agree on How (process, tech, budget, culture all matter)
- Agree on Changes & Experiments (calculated innovation)

Have them send you an email summarizing.
Two more tips for managers:

Co-author
-> Your people are more likely to stick to the script they wrote.

Consistency
-> Expectations are imperfect, so they'll need feedback.
-> Agree upfront how and when this will happen.
If you're the employee:

Why would you try and guess what your boss wants you to do?

If you don't know your expectations, there are two possible causes:
- You're lazy
- You're afraid
I'm not lazy:
If the map of explicit expectations above makes sense, why haven't you written it?

You're either:
- Passively waiting to be directed
- Unclear on what needs to be done

Either way, drafting your expectations and discussing them with your manager is progress.
I'm not afraid:
How can you win a game if you don't know the rules?

So you're either:
- Afraid to ask your manager
- Afraid to escalate that your manager is lost
- Afraid to leave despite being grossly mismanaged

It's your career. Play to win. Don't play not to lose.
Two more tips for employees:

Synthesize
-> Focus on the big picture, not every detail
-> You create more value if you can connect the dots

Empathize
-> Your manager will not have every answer
-> You can help them by surfacing the right questions
Thanks for reading.

I hope this helps you find alignment and lower the temperature at work.

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