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Expectation Management at Work–What’s that old saying about assumptions?

January 14, 2020 8:41 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Erin Glaser

Career Coach | Professional Development & Training | Instructional Specialist - Leadership, Team, DISC

Expectation management is the name of the game when it comes to any successful relationship. In both our professional and personal lives almost all conflict can be traced back to poor expectation management. Either you expected something and didn’t get it or the other person expected something and didn’t get it. Instead of vocalizing our needs we often assume the other person will just know what we want and when that doesn’t happen we immediately jump to the conclusion: “If they aren’t doing this for me then it must mean they won’t!” Frustrations flair and then conflict ensues.

Today I’m going to discuss a simple strategy that can lead to incredible benefits for your professional life.

In a professional setting, you have a lot of control over your success and enjoyment. I work with students who are often in their first professional job. They are sometimes disappointed because their expectations of the job do not match the reality.  Having a positive work experience requires that you take an active role in managing both your expectations and those of the people you work with.

Make sure that you meet with your supervisor at the beginning of your employment. This is an important first meeting to establish expectations and work culture. If your supervisor doesn’t set up a meeting or if the meeting doesn’t include the topic of expectations, then you need to ask for that. Come prepared to ask questions and take notes. Here are questions to ask:

  1. What are you expecting me to accomplish each day, week, month? 
  2. If I have a question or concern how would you like me to communicate that to you (email, in person, phone, etc.)? Do you want time to process the information before we discuss it?
  3. If I have a question or concern and you are unavailable who else can I go to?
  4. How often would you like progress updates on my work? How would you like to receive that information?
  5. If I have finished my assigned work for the day are you okay with me seeking out projects or professional development on my own?
  6. Who do you think are the best workers here? Why? (This is a rock star question! You get to understand what your employer values. You can also seek this person out later to ask them about what makes a successful employee at this place of business)
  7. My goals for this job are XXXXX. Are there opportunities to get involved in those areas? How can we work together so that I am accomplishing your goals and mine?

One final word on expectation management: follow up and follow through. After any meeting where expectations are set you must write down what was discussed and send a summary to all parties for confirmation. This ensures that you have all left the meeting with the same ideas and allows you the opportunity to follow up later if something is not unfolding the way it was discussed in the meeting.

No matter where you are in your professional life these simple tips regarding expectation management and communication can put you in the driver’s seat and lead to everyone having a more enjoyable ride.

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