4 Ways to Expect Well

Posted by Jenni Catron on Mar 4, 2021 3:31:45 AM

If you pay for a product, you expect to receive it.

If you show up to work and do your job, you expect to be paid.

If you do consistently excellent work, you expect to be promoted.

We all have expectations. Sometimes we don’t even realize we have them until they aren’t met. You have expectations of others, and they have expectations of you.

At the surface level, expectations are rather black and white, but as you dig deeper, the effects of our expectations become a little less clear. Of course I can expect to be paid if you are employing me, but very soon I need a clearer understanding of just what my work is supposed to look like. Exactly what am I supposed to be doing? If we’re not very clear on that, we’ll hit some challenges pretty quickly.

As leaders, we must assume the responsibility for clarifying expectations. Too many times I have assumed that my expectations were clear only to find myself frustrated and exasperated with a team member who wasn’t meeting them. More often than not the problem lay with me making assumptions rather than purposefully clarifying my expectations. If you’re like me, maybe there’s a better way for us to handle our expectations. Here's what I've discovered...

Here are 4 Ways to Expect Well

1) Know.  

Be conscious of what your expectations are for your team. What expectations do you have of their character and conduct? What expectations do you have for their work performance?

Sometimes, as leaders, we don’t slow down long enough to truly evaluate our expectations. When we aren’t clear and honest with ourselves about what we expect, we’ll be exorbitantly frustrated when we collide with an unmet expectation.

2) Clarify. 

Clarify your expectations with your team. No one can meet your expectations if they don’t know what they are. Now, before you race over this I really want you to think about it. Just because you told your staff once, doesn’t mean that they truly know and understand what is expected of them. Just because something is written on a job description (that they likely haven’t referenced since they were hired) doesn’t mean that they have a clear understanding of your expectations. Articulate your expectations and paint a picture for those you lead of what meeting them will look like.

3) Systematize. 

Build systems that reinforce your expectations. 
Develop staff values that reinforce the character and conduct that you expect. Write thoughtful job descriptions that clearly articulate the expectations for the role. Implement a performance review system that creates space for candid conversations about job performance. These may sound like dull HR processes, but in reality, they are the bones that hold a healthy team culture upright.

4) Celebrate. 

Acknowledge and reward every time an expectation is met. Whenever a team member meets and exceeds expectations, highlight their work and celebrate how they helped the organization achieve its mission. This simultaneously honors their work and motivates them to continue to excel.

Expectations aren’t bad. In fact, they are closely akin to having vision and hope. It’s unclear and unspoken expectations that get you in trouble.

Take the time to know your expectations and then work to clearly and consistently communicate them to your team. You’ll both be better for it!

About the Author

Jenni Catron is a writer, speaker, and leadership coach who consults churches and non-profits to help them lead from their extraordinary best. She speaks at conferences and churches nationwide, seeking to help others develop their leadership gifts and lead confidently. As Founder and CEO of The 4Sight Group, she consults with individuals and teams on leadership and organizational health.

Jenni is the author of several books, including Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence and The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership.

Topics: Leadership, Emotional Intelligence, Self Awareness

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