Keeping up expectations

“If you paint in your mind a picture of bright and happy expectations, you put yourself into a condition conducive to your goal.” Norman Vincent Peale

You may have heard me talking about my wife and how we are complete opposites. I like to see it as a “yin-yang” relationship. Of course this also means there is constant tension, which is both good and bad. Good because we are always exploring the limits of our individual comfort zones, and bad because this process requires an endless amount of patience and understanding. One of our recent debates was about a weekend escape I’d planned for the two of us. After 20 years of marriage, I finally convinced my wife that it was okay to leave our kids at home alone. (Our eldest will be 18 in September, and his brother is only 17 months younger.) Eventually, it was agreed that we should go somewhere for the weekend – but where?  This seemed to be an impossible question to answer; there were just too many variables. In the end we conquered our indecisiveness: we just got into the car and left. I figured we would get as far as Zagreb (which is about 25 km away) and then make our decision just where the motorway splits in two. I’m all for adventure and this was certainly testing the limits of my comfort zone. Deep down I believed my wife was afraid of being disappointed; however, not knowing where we were going to end up meant that we had no expectations.

But it is one thing for my wife to choose not to have expectations about her vacation, it’s another when this becomes your guiding principle. Expectations are the carrots that dangle in front of mankind; they pull evolution forward. We see them at the personal level, for instance, a scientist would not perform an experiment if he did not expect some kind of result, or you would not go on a diet if you did not expect to lose weight. However, we also see them at the societal level, where expectations are derived from religious norms and beliefs and guide our social maturity. Expectations are the seeds of hypotheses and science.

You may ask yourself why I chose to write about this; after all, there is nothing new here. But you may be surprised to discover that I regularly observe missed opportunities that are simply due to low expectations. I have also realised that setting proper expectations feeds the “Strength of the Workplace” model of Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, published in their book First Break All The Rules. The model depicts three main elements of employee satisfaction: meaningful work, opportunity to contribute and feedback for good work. Setting expectations reinforces all three elements and enables employee growth and development. The same is true for personal development. Expectations of one’s own performance – be it about staying in shape, attaining at school or triumphing on the sports field – dictates one’s success. Without expectations there are no champions. It is through having expectations that progress is made and learning takes place. You see, expectations allow you to calibrate your efforts and set “smart” (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely) objectives that will help you overcome challenges along the way to your goal.

In consulting, one of our favourite tools is getting people to describe what a perfect day would look like and how others would know it was a perfect day. Similarly, we like to ask the “consulting genie question”: if you had three wishes, what would you change about your work, in terms of your job and the company you work for? This line of questioning raises awareness and helps create a vivid image of an ideal situation – even if it’s only a dream at that moment.

By creating a contrasting image of a better environment we raise awareness, which allows us to see the deficiencies and opportunities for improvement in the current work environment. Once we have this information we know where we’re heading. It is then a simple task to divide our journey into several stages, each with its own milestone. These stages, in turn, will get broken down further into smaller measurable criteria and units that will provide the basis for your planning.

It is easy to set expectations for yourself and your team when the purpose is clear, the task is meaningful and you are contributing to make things better. The other vital ingredient is feedback: expectations don’t work if you don’t measure results or don’t get any feedback about your effort. It is all very well if we diligently measure our performance using certain indicators; what is crucial is that we seek an explanation for any deviation from that which we had expected. The indicators you use to measure performance will take on a new meaning when you not only understand them but also are able to influence them with the quality of your work. Analyse the deviation and learn from it, no matter whether it’s positive or negative in its outcome; that is the essence of continuous improvement.

Francis Lambert – Zabok, 12 June 2013

198 thoughts on “Keeping up expectations

  1. You are so interesting! I don’t think I have read anything like that before.
    So nice to discover someone with original thoughts on this subject.
    Seriously.. many thanks for starting this up. This site is something that is needed on the web,
    someone with some originality!

    Like

  2. We absolutely love your blog and find many of your
    post’s to be exactly I’m looking for. Does one offer guest
    writers too write content to suit your needs?
    I wouldn’t mind writing a post or elaborating on a number of the
    subjects you write in relation to here. Again, awesome web site!

    Like

  3. Sοmeone essentially lend ɑ hand to make
    significantlʏ articles I might state. That is the
    first time I frequеnted your website page and thus fɑr?

    I amazed with the analysis you made to cгeate this
    actuаl post extrаоrdinary. Great job!

    Like

  4. Wonderful website you have here but I was wanting to know if you knew of any user discussion forums
    that cover the same topics discussed in this article?

    I’d really like to be a part of group where I can get feedback from
    other experienced individuals that share the same interest.
    If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Thank you!

    Like

  5. Hello very cool blog!! Man .. Excellent .. Wonderful ..

    I will bookmark your website and take the feeds also?
    I’m glad to find a lot of helpful information here in the publish, we need work out extra strategies on this regard, thanks for sharing.
    . . . . .

    Like

  6. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and
    wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed browsing your
    blog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again very soon!

    Like

  7. Fantastic goods fгom you, man. I hɑve understand уour stuff previous to and you’re јust too wonderful.
    Ι actսally lіke what you’ve acquired heгe, certainly lіke what ƴou’гe stating and the way іn աhich yօu sаy it.
    Yoս make it enjoyable аnd you still take care of to keep it
    wise. I сant wait to read mucɦ morе fгom yߋu.

    Тhis is really a wonderful website.

    Like

  8. Greate post. Keep posting such kind of info on your page.
    Im really impressed by your site.
    Hey there, You have performed a great job. I’ll definitely digg it and in my view suggest to my friends.
    I’m sure they’ll be benefited from this web site.

    Like

  9. Having read this I believed it wwas really enlightening.
    I appreciate you taking the time annd energy to put this information together.
    I once again find myself personally spending a lot of time
    both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

    Like

  10. Нello, i think that i saaw yyoս visited my site thus i came to “return the favor”.I am trying to finnd things to enhancе my weЬsіte!I suppose
    its օk to use a few of your ideas!!

    Like

  11. It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d without a doubt
    donate to this superb blog! I suppose for now i’ll settle for book-marking andd addin your RSS feed to my Google
    account. I look forward to nnew updates and will talk about this website
    with my Facebook group. Chat soon!

    Like

  12. Woah! I’m really enjoying the template/theme of this site.
    It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s hard to
    get that “perfect balance” between usability and appearance.
    I must say you have done a excellent job with this.
    Also, the blog loads extremely quick for me on Opera. Excellent Blog!

    Like

  13. Thanks for your marvelous posting! I really enjoyed
    reading it, you might be a great author.I will make certain to bookmark your blog
    and will eventually come back down the road. I want to encourage yourself to continue
    your great posts, have a nice morning!

    Like

  14. My brother suggested I might like this blog. He was totally right.
    This post truly made my day. You cann’t imagine simply how much time I had spent for this
    info! Thanks!

    Like

  15. Can I simply just say what a relief to find someone who genuinely
    knows what they’re discussing on the net. You certainly realize how to bring
    a problem to light and make it important. A lot more people should look at this and
    understand this side of your story. I was surprised you aren’t more popular given that you definitely have the gift.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s