An unspoken plague exists in the vast expanse of the business landscape. A potent phenomenon has the power to shake the very foundation of companies. This affliction, known to many but addressed by few, is the curse of unmet expectations.
Unmet expectations can be likened to invisible tripwires in the workplace, ensnaring unsuspecting victims and breeding conflicts, misunderstandings, and mistrust. For Lone Leaders, recognizing, addressing, and preventing these unmet expectations is paramount to organizational success.
Why Do Unmet Expectations Occur?
- Lack of Clarity: Often, expectations are not made explicit. Lone Leaders might assume team members know what’s expected of them based on casual conversations or past experiences. Team members are left to guess or infer without clear communication, leading to potential misalignments.
- Unrealistic Expectations: Sometimes, the problem isn’t that expectations aren’t communicated, but they’re simply too high. This can be due to leaders not fully understanding the scope of a task or overestimating a team member’s capacity or resources.
- Evolving Circumstances: In a rapidly changing business world, what was expected yesterday may not be relevant today. If leaders aren’t agile in adjusting expectations in line with changing circumstances, they can easily become outdated or unachievable.
Evolving as a Lone Leader
To combat the curse of unmet expectations, you can evolve in several key areas:
- Communication is Key: Effective Lone Leaders recognize that clear communication is the cornerstone of setting and managing expectations. This means being explicit about what is expected, why it’s expected, and how success will be measured.
- Feedback Loops: It’s not enough to just set expectations. Lone Leaders should establish regular check-ins to understand progress, challenges, and required adjustments. This two-way communication allows for real-time adjustments and clarification.
- Empathy and Understanding: Lone Leaders must understand the capabilities and limitations of their team members. Leaders can set more realistic and achievable expectations by taking the time to understand individual strengths, weaknesses, and challenges.
- Adaptability: The ability to adjust and recalibrate expectations in the face of new information or changing circumstances is crucial. Lone Leaders must be agile, flexible, and willing to pivot when needed.
Three Reflections on Expectations
- Self-awareness: Reflect on times when you’ve felt disappointed or frustrated due to unmet expectations. Were these expectations clearly communicated, and were they realistic? This self-awareness can guide future interactions and expectation settings.
- Empower Teams: Consider empowering your teams to voice their concerns challenges, and provide feedback on set expectations. An empowered team is likelier to speak up when an expectation is unclear or unachievable.
- Continuous Learning: The business landscape and team dynamics are always evolving. Commit to continuous learning and adapting your leadership style. Seek feedback, engage in leadership training, and always be on the lookout for ways to better manage and set expectations.
If left unchecked, the curse of unmet expectations can erode trust, breed conflict, and hamper productivity.
By recognizing the roots of this issue and taking proactive steps to evolve as leaders, Lone Leaders can foster a more harmonious, understanding, and efficient workplace. After all, the key to progress often lies in aligning expectations with reality.
And if you need a little help, join the free Lone Leader App here.
Until next week, ask what expectations you are setting and if are they realistic.