Four Rules For Winning The Expectation Games

“Sometimes the reality is that their ceiling is your floor.” Unknown

In business, it’s OK to use quotes that are by unknown persons, but ill-advised to have unknown expectations from co-workers, supervisors and clients. If we don’t know what those we serve expect, then we have no chance of managing or meeting expectations.

  1. Contracts are important between humans. Contracts describe the parameters of the transaction and reduce risk of ambiguity (and disgruntlement) later. Signing up and paying for Amazon Prime means 2-day shipping on items …. that are Prime eligible.
  2. Roles and responsibilities help humans lead & follow. Leaders can view performance management as a human resources harangue; however leading means setting clear goals and objectives and supporting people in achieving and contributing. A cautionary tale is Zappo’s, which did a “holacracy” experiment. Holacracy occurs when authority and decision-making are via self-organizing teams rather than a traditional management structure. Sounds cool, however it resulted in 29% turnover, which is not so cool. There’s a balance between micro-management and no management.
  3. Plans are maps that ensure navigation. Even when I know how to get to certain places without maps or GPS, I still rely on road signs, traffic reports, other cars’ indicator lights, and my own car’s dashboard. No matter how experienced the individual or the team, no matter agile, waterfall, scrum, Kan-Ban, you need a map to tell you where you are vs. where you expected to be.
  4. Active listening and authentic human interaction can’t be replaced. When meeting with people whether in the hallway or a conference room, give your whole attention to the words and body language. Maintain eye contact, nod, ask questions that will amplify and clarify what people are imparting. There are actually six levels of active listening; it’s worth finding out what level you are at and striving to improve.

A good exercise before you finish your day is to ask yourself “Do I know what do I expect to achieve tomorrow? Do I know what others’ expect of me?” If the answer isn’t clear, think about the resources you have to clarify including contracts, objectives, plans and active listening.

“Past is experience, Present is experiment, and Future is expectation. Use your experience in your experiments to achieve your expectations.” Unknown

Worth considering: 

The news is sobering. Often in the aftermath of unexpected events, it is interesting to me to see how people act (and react). I go back to this quote: “Character is how you treat those who can do nothing for you” (also by Unknown).



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