Guest Column | November 12, 2019

Are You Setting The Right Expectations? How To Get Your Team There Faster!

By Liz Bywater, Ph.D.

Liz Bywater 3

A few months ago, I switched personal trainers. Now don’t get me wrong. I liked my previous trainer. We got along well, he was pleasant and knowledgeable, and he helped me build stamina, strength, and confidence. I spent three hours each week with him at my local gym.

With my new trainer, I spend just 30 minutes a week doing a high intensity workout. (Yes, I also “do my own thing” on non-trainer days: swim, run, dance, etc.). What I’ve found is that with just one targeted personal training session per week, I am getting better, faster results and enjoying it more than ever. How can this be?

It’s about expectations.

My new trainer simply expects me to work hard and get results. He pushes me to lift heavier weights, do more reps, take shorter rests, and try new exercises. And when that happens, I rise to the challenge. I work harder. I push myself. I meet his expectations. Quite often, I exceed them.

Think about this: How much time and money are you spending training your team in ways that don’t produce substantial, lasting results that truly make a difference?

Of course, all teams need some sort of training, and everyone deserves to be developed. But are you investing time and money in the best possible ways?

Here’s an easy solution that won’t cost you a dime:

Sit down weekly with each of your direct reports. Engage in a proactive, strategic conversation (this is not the time for a business update). Have direct, clear discussions about the progress they’re making, and bring up any concerns you may have. Be sure they fully “get” what you expect of them. Convey to them:

  1. What are the most pressing business needs and in which ways do you expect them to accelerate outcomes?
  2. What are they doing well, and how can they expand their impact?
  3. Where are they falling behind, and how quickly must they improve?

You can accomplish a tremendous amount by taking a half hour each week creating clarity, focusing on priorities, and expecting the very best from every member of your team.

When you set expectations your team will follow through – even when you’re not there.

Are you asking your team to rise to the level of your expectations? Or are you dropping expectations to a lower level? Either way, you are likely to see performance reflect what you expect.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this edition of Dr. Liz on Leadership. In each article, I will share new innovative ideas, tools and targeted advice to help you excel in today’s ever-changing healthcare environment. Let me know what’s top of mind and I’ll answer your most pressing questions in future columns. Contact me at For additional tools and ideas, visit my website, And don’t forget to pick up your copy of Slow Down to Speed Up: Lead, Succeed, and Thrive in a 24/7 World!