Expectations – Set them. Exceed them.

In the past month or so, I’ve fielded an unusual spike in disappointing emails – emails about delayed projects, colleagues who are unable to follow through with commitments, and others from people who just generally set an expectation, then fall flat. I am not sure if it’s the time of year, bad karma, or just a string of bad luck, but I must say that I find it tiring and quite confusing.

When I set an expectation, I do everything I can to meet and exceed that expectation. It’s understandable that things come up, but when things come up, most likely the situation can be managed by allocating a little extra time or shifting priorities. Either way, I don’t take expectations lightly and I do what I can to go above and beyond.

Basically, if I set an expectation that I will have a project completed by Friday, I will have it by Friday (if not by Thursday). If I deliver it on Friday, I’ve met the expecation. If I deliver it on Thursday, I’ve exceeded the expectation…and probably shocked the hell out of the recipient. Why? Because (and maybe this is just me, but) we are too often disappointed that we’ve come to expect people to not live up our/their expectations.

Here’s a lesson I learned from a previous employer: Set expectations that you can exceed and you will never get yourself in a bind. Basically, when we had projects, she would tell us to set our own deadline based on our workload and what seemed reasonable. Then she held us 100 percent accountable for that deadline since we set the expectation. Makes a lot of sense.

So the moral of today’s babble? Don’t set expectations you can’t exceed…or at least meet. When you fail to meet expectations, it effects everyone involved (remember that) and they don’t deserve to be disappointed.

Disclaimer: There are always exceptions to the rule so unforeseen or extenuating circumstances are always understood.

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