Employees Test Lines
What is it the employees want to know? Why do they keep wanting to know it? Like any person a group of employees want to know where their place is in the scheme of things. They wish to know the job and how what each does affects the whole. They also wish to know they are doing it correctly and that the boss is pleased. Let's face it, every day they come in and basically do the same job so they need to get cues that it still is being done well.
Employees wish to know that the boss is going to be consistent. Not only this but that fairness matters. And they want to know that they have a relationship with the person in charge. This is shown by the hellos and asking how things are going and even some jokes now and then. They want to feel like a boss sees them not only as an employee but also as a person.
But the greatest thing employees want to know and why they test is, they want to know where the boundaries are. This is why managers have to be consistent with the rules and also communicate the rules very clearly. The employees need to know the boundaries because this gives the employees or team security. If someone does not know where the lines are they may make a mistake and cross the lines without even knowing they got close. That's the fear for an employee. To not be able to recognize the line. They also test to see if they can trust the boss.
One of the greatest things you can do for employees is be concise on expectations. Don't ever assume that they know what you want. Tell them.