One in five workers leave their current jobs to find other work. I wonder how many others want to leave their current assignment, but can’t. What’s the cause of this exodus? Usually, it’s incompatible work to job skills, bad supervisors, an unfriendly environment or a politically charged workplace. While the organizational leadership usually acts as a model, there are additional factors that you need to explore: Mismatched expectations.
When expectations are mutually understood and consistent between two or more parties, the outcome is usually excellent. It’s when expectations are misunderstood, changed, not consistent or murky, that conflict usually follows. Here are some examples:
- A marketing ad states, “A weight loss of 15 pounds in 7 days”, but results show there is no weight loss at all. The credibility of the company is lost, along with the customer. The expectation did not match reality.
- A boss and subordinate agreed to an increased revenue goal of 8%. However, each had a different time frame: The boss wanted results in 6 months, the subordinate didn’t ask, but assumed results were needed in 12 months. The outcome:
- In November, a couple agree that they want to get married “soon”. She expects an engagement ring at Christmas. He is thinking the Summer is soon enough. Guess what? They soon learn how to deal with a disagreement if they get married, or not.
Everyone wants a degree of certainty in their daily life. To achieve certainty, effective communications must eliminate ambiguity, doubt and uncertainty. In a boss/subordinate situation, the boss needs to be clear and consistent. When a boss isn’t, the subordinate experiences increased stress and job dissatisfaction. When the subordinate doesn’t ask questions to seek clarity, doesn’t provide feedback, or when the plan changes without discussion, the outcome is always conflict.
The solution: You must manage expectations, whether you’re the boss, subordinate, consumer or spouse. How do you do that? Here are a few thoughts:
- Figure out what your longer-term goal is with the interaction. Sometimes the situation will dictate your approach. For instance, time may be a critical factor depending upon compressed or extended time needed to achieve the goal.
- The skill, experience, knowledge or abilities of those needed to carry out the task. You and your boss may agree on expectations, but if you have a weak team or lack dependable information or support from others, you won’t be able to meet your goal.
- Assume that all elements will not work as planned. Impediments to success will always be a factor. Build in as many contingencies as possible. Be flexible, creative and adaptable with solutions when an issue gets in the way.
- Build in check-points or benchmarks to make sure you’re on track. Modify the plan when needed, but engage the key players in the changes.
Expectations, when effectively managed can enhance your results. When expectations are not mutually aligned, disaster may follow.
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