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Managing Our Expectations of Others


As a manager I probably have two different types of expectations …

(1)  Expectations tied to position/income

This is the cost/reward expectation that says if I am paying you a lot of money I expect a good return for that. 

(2) Expectations based on potential

This is more like the parent/child relationship, where I see potential in people and expect them, to succeed … and sometimes my expectation is met, sometimes not!

I think it is important to differentiate between these two types of expectation for lots of reasons.  Most importantly because our expectations based on potential are really subjective and success sometimes just takes a little longer.  Expectations of senior people based upon existing position and income have a more severe consequence when expectations are not met.

So, how can we manage our expectations in a way that reasonable … maybe if we looked at management as being a lot like parenting it might help.

> We try to get the best out of our staff. > We take pride in their successes and we “punish” their failures. > We coach them and give them incentives to do better. > We reward them when they do good work. > Sometimes we push them a little hard, but sometimes we are a little too easy on them. > In a healthy relationship there is good communication, and an understanding that we are all pulling in the same direction. > The employee should feel that the manager has their best interest at heart and vice-versa.  The manager should want their employee to succeed, and the employee should want their manager to be successful too. > It is OK to have different expectations of different employees (just like your kids).

Like a parent/child relationship there are lots of pitfalls … but the biggest chance of success comes with LOTS of communication.  I will be more tolerant of an employee on their way up the ladder, and less tolerant of a senior employee.  In fact the scale ramps up as people move up the reward chain … so my “tolerance” chart might look this:

> Business Partner (10) > Executive (9) > Manager (8) > Supervisor (7) > Senior (6) > Intermediate (5) > Junior (4)

Obviously the more senior a person the more expectations there should be, but sometimes we fall into the trap of expecting too much from people for other reasons.  That junior person who somehow always delivers … we expect them to always deliver, but do we move them up the chain?

That child of ours who does not understand their place in the world yet … do we give them the room they need and the advice that helps them understand better.  Or do we try to put our own expectations on them?

So … are you reasonable in your expectations?  How do you measure and control them?  Do your employees understand your expectations?

Having reasonable expectations is probably good for your blood pressure. 🙂