in Communication, Leadership, Leading People, Leading Projects, Quality Improvement

Setting Expectations On Behaviors You Value: 5 Pointers

Just about the time that I was thinking about behaviors that impact quality of our outcomes, I read the following quote:

“You get more of the behavior you reward. You don’t get what you hope for, ask for, wish for or beg for. You get what you reward.” – Michael le Boeuf

As a manager or business leader, rewarding the behaviors you seek is a matter of constant choice. You can reward meeting the deadlines, or you can reward meeting the quality standards. You can reward by results, or you can reward by how those results were achieved. You can reward a person who talks a lot about work, or you can reward a person who lets his work speak. A lot of what you build as a part of your organization’s culture is a result of what you have rewarded over a period of time.

Whether you are a project manager or a business leader, here are a few actions you can take to set the right expectations on behaviors you value.

  • Identify your core values and behaviors that are important to your organization. (e.g customer orientation, respect for others, integrity etc.)
  • Constantly communicate the values and behaviors you expect from people. You can also set their KRA’s accordingly to cover specific results and generic behavior.
  • Instantly validate and reinforce when you see the right behavior. Thank them, acknowledge that you took a note, praise whatever. But do validate, because no action when someone behaves right often means that you don’t appreciate/value it.
  • Show them the way by counseling and constant feedbacks. You can use forums like kickoff meetings, retrospectives, one-on-ones and even informal sessions to guide your team members. People always love to know what is exactly expected out of them.
  • Strategically reward through appreciation, interim rewards and performance appraisals. In performance appraisals, specifically mention the behaviors you have appreciated when reviewing overall performance. Share feedback.
  • Utilize software for human resource management to pick out which employees are profitable and be transparent about it.

Bottom line: You form a strategic reward system when you integrate performance (results) and behavior (how those results were achieved). The payoffs are huge because people are more aware and aligned to deliver better results. So the critical question is:  “Is your performance management system driving the right behaviors for the organization?”

– – – –

P.S.: Three quarters of 2010 have been a super fast for this blog with a frequency of 3 posts per week and a total of 100+ posts. Check out the round-ups of all posts written in 2010 (in case you have missed any of those or would like to revisit.)

  1. Right appreciation at Right time to a Right person can fetch Right results. Good topic!

    Jay Chhaya

  2. Great list for supporting people (including yourself) in not just talking the talk but also walking the walk! I particularly appreciate “instantly Validate” . You can only create and reinforce a culture if you consistently catch people in the act of demonstrating the values and behaviors that make up the “how” we get the job done.

    • @Susan – Thanks for adding to the conversation. I think instant validation and catching people doing right things is a great management method, not just for reinforcing the behaviors but also to encourage, motivate and drive people to deliver desired business results.

      How we do things is as important as what we do. Thanks again.


    • @John – I totally agree on coaching. In my view, effective coaching is also one of the best motivators, since coaching removes roadblocks for people.

      “Strategic Reward” as referred here is not just “carrot and stick” – but the idea was to map the intrinsic human need to be validated/appreciated with managing expectation. What you appreciate gets done more. Other rewards are important, but not at the core of managing expectations on behaviors you value.

      Thanks much for commenting!


  3. Jack & Suzy Welch, in their famous book ‘Winning’ mention (not word-by-word) that as a leader you must make sure your vision runs in the veins of your entire team.. So, setting the Right Expectations has to start from the top level executives (i.e. founders, chairman, CEO, HR Head, etc.) – for it to flow along the hierarchy. Then as you rightly said, Constant & Clear communication (by setting KRAs) is a Must.

    As we know, this is one of the most neglected processes in most organizations, often resulting in poorly rewarded/appraised employees. The result: increased attrition.

Comments are closed.


  • Building Engaged Teams with Power of Appreciation January 23, 2012

    […] made a difference. It has to transfer positive energy! Appreciating others also sets precedence on behaviors you value. You will get more of what you […]

  • Training: The Change Agent January 23, 2012

    […] if done with right intent and zeal can transform the organization. Trainings are a great forum to set the expectations on behaviors you value and build the […]

  • Fostering Autonomy in a Team: 7 Lessons January 23, 2012

    […] that people put their best skills and experience to use. Smart delegation is also about setting the ground rules/expectations and setting team members free to take work related decisions within given boundaries and/or […]

  • Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog » Carnival of Human Resources January 23, 2012

    […] Setting Expectations On Behaviors You Value: 5 Pointers by Tanmay Vora […]