I’ve always been the type to go “above and beyond”, as countless supervisors, teachers, coaches, etc. have been more than willing to share with me. But how can anyone go “above and beyond expectations” unless they know what is expected of them to begin with?
In every job I’ve ever had, both in and out of Student Affairs, I’ve always been big on knowing what is expected of me, and what I can expect of those around me. This goes beyond knowing job responsibilities; it’s about understanding the give and take supervisor has with employee. When I worked in hotel management, I wanted to know what my boss’s expectations of me were in going beyond my assigned duties. But I also wanted to know what I could expect from my supervisor. How much communication could I expect? If I needed to improve something, how would that be addressed? I wanted to know these things so I could best understand what it meant to be a good supervisor, always looking to learn and grow.
So during one of my first meetings with my current RA staff, I outlined my expectations for them. This included not only their job responsibilities as spelled out in their working agreement, but also included things that I wanted to see in regards to supporting each other as a team, encouragement and suggestions of when to ask for help, how we might have fun together (even if it means digging shaving cream out of my ear all night), and examples of what it truly means to be a role model to residents.
Like I said though, I also want to know what is expected of me. After discussing my expectations of them, I gave them time to discuss amongst themselves what they expected from me. I left the room for this, allowing them the space to openly discuss concerns or issues without fear of my interjection or judgement. They came back to me with the following set of six expectations:
I know that asking a staff to develop a set of expectations is not a unique idea. I mean, I got the idea from my previous supervisor. But, wanting to go beyond just an arbitrary set of guidelines, I wanted to give my staff something more out of it. I wanted to give them the ability to truly hold me accountable for sticking to their expectations of me.
That’s why I took the set of six expectations my RAs gave me, expounded on what I believe they meant, typed it up, and handed each staff member a signed copy during a staff meeting. I discussed with them the importance of being accountable in our positions, and charged them to, if necessary, bring it to my attention if I’m not meeting their expectations in some way. I may be their supervisor, but that doesn’t exclude me from being accountable.
At the top of this document, I wrote a sentence that I think best sums up the entire idea. “I gave you my expectations of you and will remind of them as need be; I would expect no less than the same.”
This post is part of the Emerging SA Pro series following 4 awesome people: Alexandria, Doug, Emily, and Alexander, as they blog monthly about 1 year of their journey as either a new SA Pro or SA grad student. We are proud to help them share their stories as they break into our field.