When it comes to setting expectations, how high is too high?
This is an age old question that constantly challenges managers and leaders alike. When it comes to setting expectations, there is a method to the madness and you should, in fact, have a process to do so. There are several basic building blocks to utilize when setting expectations and they include things such as Providing Structure, Clarifying Roles, Set Motivating Goals, and Giving & Receiving Feedback on a regular basis. These are all very simple concepts to understand, but not easy to effectively implement. The commonality of these concepts is they are essentially free to implement because they all revolve around communication, both verbal and written.
Take a minute to think about how often a message, that you believe to have been delivered with the precision of a sharp shooter, is completely misunderstood by the receiving party. The outcome is a complete breakdown of the expectation process, thus setting the recipient up for failure before they have even begun. The other challenge stems from the fact that, as “the giver of the expectations”, you already clearly understand not only the goals, but also the impact that the successes and failures of your expectations have on the overall outcome of the project. With communication being free, it is so critical to explain the goals and objectives. Not everyone picks it up completely the first time, so be sure to express what you expect clearly, fully, and often.
Like many Type A personalities, I suffer from thinking fast, talking fast, and typing fast. The problem with this is that I often do not communicate as clearly as I think I am verbally. Written communication is a whole different story due to abundance of typos that can take place within even a simple email. I have found the most success from coupling the use of written and verbal communication and practicing both on a regular basis. Now that I have laid the foundation, let me go back to the initial question; “How high is too high for setting expectations?”. I have found that you can set very high expectations as long as you are willing to be patient and knowing full well that greatness takes time. A good leader begins with the end in mind. Once they clearly communicate the expectations and set up a structure for success, they need to be realistic about how much can be achieved and how fast someone can achieve it!
CSI Tech & Anteo Group Unit Manager