Unmet Expectations – A Recipe for Disaster
If you have been disappointed then you are not alone, however you also need to think about what led to you being disappointed.
It’s all too easy to just blame the other person. If you are reading this blog then you are probably a manager, so deep in your heart of hearts you have felt even a moment of blame toward the employee who let you down.
Pretty much every one of us has felt disappointed in a personal relationship. But this is a business blog not an “Agony Aunt” bog.
No one likes to be let down or disappointed
I’m sure that most people do not want to let others down (yes there is room in my world view for people who do not know or care about whether or not they let other people down)
The other thing that I am sure of is that if you have been disappointed (as I have been) then you have the ability to change that feeling (as I do for myself)
Dr Stephen Covey referred to humans having “response-ability” meaning that we have the ability to choose our response to situations.
Feeling disappointed is a feeling and we as adults have the ability to choose our response.
Perhaps not always in the immediate moment (that is called a reflex response) but we do have a choice about how we assess and respond to that moment over a period of time.
Lets take an example – like me I’m sure you have been stopped by a stranger in the street asking for directions. When I help someone in that situation, if I expect payment or money then it will be easy for me to be disappointed?
Having been raised by parents with old fashioned values, I do expect a “thank you” Can you see the problem with that?
How different would it be if my view was that a “thank you” would be nice rather than expected.
The single best way to avoid being disappointed
The best way to avoid disappointment is to be crystal clear about what it is that you expect. With yourself as well as with others.
Being clear on what we expect as an individual can be tricky and may confront a whole heap of beliefs and personal value statements.
It’s usually only after the fact that we consider what it was that we expected from someone else. Or perhaps from ourselves. By then it’s often too late and damage has been done. To relationships and reputations.
In the workplace managers often think that work and performance level expectations are clear in position descriptions.
That is not always the case, but a clear description of the responsibilities of a role is a really good start.
In your personal life when have you been disappointed by the behaviour of someone only to have them say “But you never told me that was important to you” Or a line like that.
So the single most important think that we all can do to avoid disappointment is to be very clear about what we expect.
When you help someone – perhaps a stranger asking for directions – what do you expect in response?
When you help someone at work – perhaps on a project or a report – what is it that you expect? A thank you or to be acknowledged in the final outcome?
Think carefully about this as it is impossible for someone to meet your expectations unless you state them clearly.
While thinking about work, if you as a manager fail to be clear on what you expect from your team then it’s likely that they will be disappointed too – because the hard work that they have put in has not hit the mark.
Here Are 5 Practical Tips For You
If you want to avoid feeling disappointed and/or to not disappoint others then these tips will be of value
- Get really clear on what your own values are and what behaviours are associated with them.
If you value honesty, then you may expect people to tell you about mistakes or errors as soon as they have realised them. If the other party values harmony then the behaviour associated with that may be to hold back on delivering bad news.
Can you see how there is an inherent clash? And a risk of misunderstanding and disappointment.
- Ask questions and be prepared to have open discussions with others about what is expected. This is especially important when you manage a team.
Ask questions like “what does success look like” and “what is the best way to thank you and appreciate you for a job well done”
- Think and speak about expectations in terms of behaviour and observable actions.
It makes it easier for others and for you to know what to do when it has been described in clear and observable ways.
- Relax a little. Every one of us has had and will again be disappointed. In most instances the person/people who have disappointed us did not intend to do that. What they intended to do was the best they could.
- When things go badly remember that it is important to forgive and to remember what happened so you can make things different and better in the future.