Chapter 2: Set clear expectations

Make them explicit and concise for healthy team dynamics.

To build or join an early-stage start-up is nothing short of a wild ride.

If your business is particularly innovative, you may find yourself on a path less traveled. No literature, insufficient mentoring and challenges that no other leaders have faced. You’ll need a team that can steer the ship while you go full steam ahead. Their strengths are the key to a fulfilling start-up environment, which is why setting clear expectations from the start is mandatory.

To facilitate onboarding, Alex wrote a blog post about his expectations. You can find it here (5 min read).

My suggestion would be to build your own list of expectations and communicate them to your team and candidates in your recruitment process as soon as possible.

Here are some topics we've covered in our expectations

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    for advice

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  • Sharing emotions


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    meeting times,

What you as a colleague can expect of your leader

From the principles and values that you follow,
to the way things are accomplished.


As part of our expectations alignment, we define tours of duty at the beginning of our work relationship

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    Rotational tours are designed to provide scalability; their programmatic approach can be widely applied, even to blue-collar workers.

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    Transformational tours are designed to provide adaptability; their personalized approach requires a greater investment of time management but allows them to tackle key issues and initiatives.

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    Foundational tours are designed to provide continuity; their permanent approach helps codify the cultural and institutional memory of the organization.

As we join the company, we also agree on the date we are going to leave.

It might sound counterintuitive, but the reality is that people are expected to move forward in their careers after their collaboration in any given project and/or company. At Voice123, Bunny Inc. and Torre, I’ve perceived excitement in many cases as colleagues pursue new challenges beyond their Tours of Duty with us.

How do tours of duty work?

In a nutshell, Tours of Duty helps to define key aspects of the roadmap in one’s commitment to the company.

What’s the purpose of our agreement?

Beyond the title of our role or description, there must be a high-level purpose for our engagement.

There are three types of Tours of Duty which can be used as a frame of reference. Here’s an extract from Reid Hoffman’s article on Tours of Duty:

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Tour of Duty Template

This isn’t rocket science. In fact, my personal Tour of Duty isn’t as pretty and structured as it could be, but like most ducktape marketing, it holds up. If you’d like, you’re welcome to read and use it as your template.

It doesn’t matter if we’re early-stage or we’ve scaled up. We expect you to grow professionally and have a professional development plan in place

  • Personal Traits



    Hard Skills

    Soft Skills

  • Professional Development

    Development Points
    (aspects you’d like to improve)

    (data points that serve to prove your development points)

    (measures courses, action steps, etc.)


  • Career Trajectory

    (where you'd like to be in the next 1, 5, 10 and/or 15 years)




According to a study done by Carta, a global ownership management company, the average tenure of a start-up colleague is approximately 2 years depending on the runway the company can raise (amongst other factors). But the reality is, when you join a start-up full-time, it could mean a significant life commitment that's not to be treated as a temporary project.

At Torre, we define our professional development plans as early as possible.

It includes a set of tools to identify strengths and weaknesses, as well as setting up a plan to work with your leader on aspects you’d like to work on.

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Here are the actual templates we use at Torre to onboard new remote hires.