Many years ago I got a job as a Analyst in a some tech company. Looking back I still dont know how it happened but short of the story I was a bit too click happy with my mouse and just applied for all jobs with the word Analyst in the title. So imagine my surprise when I got called back for a role as a Strategy Analyst which for those who know is a lot to do with spreadsheets and calculations. Now I must have done pretty well cos I got offered the role. Now this is where is turned bad. They wanted a wiz at Excel and got a dude who just knew the basics. In a couple of weeks I had the CEO asking me for top level work and I couldn't do it. A few months later I was on the street.
I tell that sad story because it leads nicely into this session where we'll be talking about expectation. Now in my experience, the singular reason for most of us suffering disappointment in relationships, work and where we have deal with others is unmet expectations. Expectation also tends to be closely linked to its lovely cousin called communication.
Here's how it works.
If I don't know what exactly you are going to give me, and you dont know what exactly what I want you to give me, it stands to reason that somewhere along the line one or both of us is going to be dissatisfied. The sequence is me; the receiver is probably to first to complain, then you who believe and probably in all likelihood did a good job think I don't appreciate what you've done and we end up in conflict because we didnt agree to the right level in the first place. It's all about managing expectations. That's the big word today - expectations. Managing relationships is critical in relationships, workplace, business, everywhere.
I want to talk those going into work today , getting in agreements, agreeing work with the managers about how to do this. It's a simple 3 step process.
Your customer (and it doesn't hurt you to start bringing the customer mindset to everybody you engage with) asks you for something. Your manager, your spouse, your friend.
Take time to think about it clearly to make sure you understand.
Now play it back to them stating clearly what they want, when they want it and how they want it - and here is the key - they have to say Yes that's what I mean. Until you get that Yes you dont have a clear agreement and both of you are making assumptions that the other gets it.
Now why do expectations go wrong.
Most of us are shaped by our world experiences and our perspectives which are unique to us. This carries into the workplace where we assume previous experiences whether good or bad apply to the new situation and we make decisions. We forget that most things are subjective so ones man meat could possibly be another mans poison. I get in some case in the world of science its data driven and 0 is 0 but in most things we need to work through our assumptions and come to a common ground. Remember have a view on what quality is or what good looks like.
The glue that holds all this together though is the sign off. The agreement. Whether its from your spouse, friend, business partner etc. The phrase is good to use 'just to be clear. You want X Y Z at this time and in this way.
This all sounds formal but trust me it works. In the work place yes it is but out of work it doesnt have to be. It's just a simple 'hey I will do this at this time, and in this way. That cool?
Looking back at my time in the tech company I should have straight off the bat said , I'm a rookie, I'll learn , work long hours and my work will be a bit rough at first but we'll get there at which time they could have said yes or no and saved us all or the heartache.