People who fail to achieve their goals usually get stopped by frustration.
– Anthony Robbins
Relationships are often strained due to frustration, the frustration created by poorly communicated expectations.
Can you think of a relationship where you are experiencing frustration?
Now, think about why you are frustrated; is there an unfulfilled expectation? If so, what is it?
*Lori’s relationship with her CEO is strained. Her recent performance review was lower than the previous years. During the review, the CEO also told her he wants a 35% reduction in production time by year end; it was not discussed. She nods and leaves his office.
What do you think? How do you think their relationship is affected? How frustrated is she, based on this poorly communicated expectation? How inspired? Motivated? Encouraged?
This story became the perfect moment to explore the foundational leadership and communication skill of setting expectations.
Fueling the Conflict
Notice the negative progression of how well expectations are communicate (or not) and how this leads to interpersonal conflict.
- un EXPRESSED – Telling, without communicating
- un EXAMINED – Telling, without seeking to understand
- un REALISTIC – Telling, without concern for practicality
- un FULFILLED – Frustration and limited opportunity
UN-desired outcome: interpersonal conflict.
Four Steps to Effectively Set Expectations
While it will require time on the front end to prepare and set expectations, it will pay off. Compared to the cost of frustration in your organization or relationships is it worth the extra effort? What is the cost of a missed deadline? What is the cost of disengagement? What is the cost of lost opportunities?
Consider these four steps the next time you need to set an expectation:
- Why does it matter?
- Ask and probe the 5W Questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why?
- Is this expectation realistic? How do I know that?
- Can they do what I’m asking?
- What do we need to happen?
- How do you know you have buy-in?
- How will you know they “own it?
- Can they repeat the details, in their own words?
- How well do they understand what the desired outcome is?
- Establish accountabilities
- What are the positive or negative consequences?
- What reward(s) can be attached to successful completion?
- What happens if the commitment is unfulfilled?
- When will feedback be given?
- When will we re-negotiate, if need be?
- How will I support their execution?
Before you say, “I don’t have time for all that!” how would you answer this question:
How much time and energy do you spend managing relationship conflict due to unfulfilled expectations?
Lori, is a successful executive but left that meeting lacking clarity as to the CEO’s expectation. How is this affecting her performance, engagement, and relationships? What do you think?
Please share your comments below.
*The name has been changed.