Inspect What You Expect

I once had a boss who was known for saying, “Inspect what you expect.” I have always believed that this is a good basic approach to improving operations within your department. Before you can do any inspecting though, you must clearly define your expectations.


“Before you or your staff can achieve quality goals, you need to be very clear about your own expectations regarding how things should be done and the standards of performance that must be reached. Once you have defined these expectations you can communicate them clearly to staff, emphasizing your own commitment and the fact that achieving excellence is everyone’s responsibility”

– Robert Heller

This quote from Robert Heller’s book, Learning to Lead, underscores the fact that setting those expectations and communicating them to your team is critical. Not only do you need to define those expectations, but you need to commit to them yourself. Without your total, personal commitment to the goals you have set and to you your team, you will not be able to gain the support of those team members who can help you reach those goals.

In your role as a manager or team leader, you may be presented with goals from your supervisor that may be company-wide expectations, or expectations specific to your team.

The first step to achieving any goal is to identify and clearly communicate it to all team members involved in reaching that goal.

Secondly, there needs to be some group discussion and team input regarding strategies for moving towards achievement.

This is where many leaders go wrong- they simply set the goal, communicate the goal, and wait for results.

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Next, YOU, the leader, must fully commit to the goal and to your team.

Show them that you are not just setting or communicating the expectation, but that you too are personally committed to helping the team achieve the goal.

Lastly, you must “inspect what you expect.”

Now that you have communicated the goal and committed to it, you can monitor your team’s progress toward the goal. Inspect the processes and systems that have been put into place and determine if they are working as well as whether or not they are efficient.

If you are not making sufficient progress towards the goal, ask yourself and your team “Why?” Ask yourself and your team “What more can I do to help?”  Then you can begin to modify your systems and approach and aim for the goal through a different strategy.

In summary, identifying expectations, communicating expectations, and personally committing to the effort are critical to leading your team to excellence!

Question: Are you inspecting what you’re expecting from your staff and co-workers? How do you communicate goals to your team? You can leave a comment by clicking here.



Dr. Melissa Sweetman obtained her Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree with a concentration in Administration and Practice Management from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions in 2012. Prior to joining RMUoHP, she worked as a top-producing clinical and operational multi-state regional director in the post-acute and long-term care settings. Her clinical background includes mental health, acute care, post-acute care, and long-term care. Dr. Sweetman’s passion is authentic leadership and assisting other occupational therapists develop their own leadership skills. She is currently in the process of earning a PhD in Leadership with a concentration in Educational Adminstration.

Dr. Sweetman serves as a critically appraised paper reviewer for the American Occupational Therapy Association, as a peer reviewer for the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, is a member of the Advisory board for a newly developed C.O.T.A. to M.O.T. bridge program in North Carolina, and enjoys presenting and publishing on the topics of leadership and education.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, off-topic, or downright annoying.

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