Are Your Expectations Letting You and Your Team Down?
Do you ever find yourself with a song stuck in your head which transports you back in time? Like the Alanis Morisset album I had on repeat over a weekend of painting in a previous property? Of course there are the traditional pull backs of formals, parties, weddings and alike, but sometimes the audio cue reminds us of much more subtle and seemingly insignificant things that happen.
Yet other times, if you love music like I do, some songs just stay with you for no specific reason at all. They are not tied to any ‘event’ or ‘time’, they are just a song that you loved and have never fallen out of love with over the years, every time you hear it you can’t help but smile.
Well, as a fan of all things 90’s music, one such song for me is Hey Jealousy released by a band known as the Gin Blossoms back in the early 90’s. While I do love the song, there is one single line in that song that has stuck with me from the first time I heard it till today, and it is powerful in it’s simplicity, the line is this: “If you don’t expect too much from me you might not be let down”.
Stop and think about that line for a moment – what it says to me is that it’s our expectations of others that can be responsible for the feeling you get of disappointment, of being let down, of expectations not being met. It’s not the action of the individual, it’s our own failure to create and set realistic expectations. If we have set our expectations too high – we get let down, but it’s not the fault of the other individual.
In business, we’re usually pretty good at setting expectations, we set clear expectations with suppliers, with our customers, with the contractors we engage. So why then when it comes to our team do I so often hear that leaders and managers are feeling let down by their team – simple they haven’t set the right expectations nor been clear about the what it is that they expect.
Now I am not at all saying that you should reduce or set low expectations from your team, absolutely not, but to create realistic expectations that do not feel them feeling like they have failed, and do not leave you feeling let down.
So how can we go ahead and do this?
One of the key reasons business owners, leaders and managers report feeling let down, is by the fact that their employees don’t think like them. The first strategy in setting realistic expectations is to completely drop this one.
Of course your staff members doesn’t think like you – it’s not their business, they aren’t in your leadership role, they are an ‘employee’ and as such they aren’t going to think like you. Now, if you happen to find a team member who does thing like you I encourage you to do whatever you can to look after them and retain them, but you should never set that expectation on them.
Creating clarity is key to creating realistic and achievable expectations. It’s important that you get clear yourself on what the expectation is and why it’s important and then set about clearly communicating this to the employee or the team.
Also understand where you need to set expectations – where is it critical to success in the business and in the employees position. You don’t want to be micro managing and setting detailed expectations for every intricacy of every role -it will exhaust both them and you.
One of the key ways to set expectations is making sure you set boundaries, these may not be an actual expectation on the quality of the task, but the parameters through which you expect the employee to operate. Without boundaries and parameters it’s very easy for lines to be blurred and you to feel let down.
On top of that, don’t forget to set expectations around the ‘soft skills’ the things that dictate how we do things around here. Whether it’s the modes of communication, the way we approach problems or the way we delegate tasks, setting expectations around these areas helps strengthen the culture and engage your team.
Once you set the expectations, discuss with the employee, make sure you have their agreement and document, document, document! That way there is no confusion from either of you about what is expected.
Next week we are kicking off a free workshop where I am going to share the exact blueprint for building a winning team - a dream team that will drive business performance (whilst giving you your nights and weekends back).
I’d love for you to join me, and get the inside scoop on how other savvy business owners are using this framework to build their amazing teams.
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