“I hope you do not let anyone else’s expectations direct the course of your life.”
― Julianne Donaldson
We all struggle at some level with managing expectations, whether it is your expectations or expectations from others.
As January approaches, bringing us to another new year, most of us plan on what old habits we need to get rid of. Habits that hold us back, and aspire to lean new skills or abilities to increase our productivity, whether you are working from home or in the office.
If you are a leader of your own life, managing expectations is a hidden skill that you need to learn to avoid disappointment and frustration that sometimes can lead to stress, especially at work or in your relationships with others.
What does managing your expectations mean?
Expectations are your strong hopes that something will happen or that you will get something that you want.
Managing expectations means continually communicating, and having direct discussions on how, when, and where things get done, and not making assumptions about others’ understanding of our situation. Our expectations may turn out to be unrealistic or not aligned to desired actions and outcomes, established norms, or set performance or quality standards.
Your expectations are influenced mainly by who you are and what you experience in your personal and professional life. Therefore, expectations cannot be right or wrong.
Why is it important to manage expectations?
It is essential to manage expectations because a significant misalignment of expectations at work, in life, or personal relationships, important outcomes such as job performance/ Job satisfaction, personal commitment are challenged.
Maybe you are more inclined to go along with what other people want rather than asking for what you want, or you find yourself saying YES to people you work with, yet you lack the resources or the time to take on extra projects on your plate.
It is time to find your middle ground between happiness and expectations.
What are good expectations?
Good expectations are realistic and communicated clearly. As someone who prides me in helping others take their ideas from zero to higher common ground, I always have focused on successfully managing the expectations of the people I help.
When I fail to meet any expectation I set, it reflects a lack of professionalism. It is important to re-evaluate how much I can take on, and now that I have less time each day, I am becoming even more realistic with my commitments.
In some situations with clients, you might need to under-promise and over-deliver. If a client asks you to work on the project and needs, it completed in a week, talk to them about achieving it in 2 weeks and deliver it in a week and a half.
Managing Expectations At Work
Have you ever been in a workplace situation where your boss expects way too much of you, and they set goals that might be hard to attain? And yet, you do not want to disappoint him or her?
Well, I want you to know that your life depends on how well you are at expressing your goals and managing expectations to the best of your abilities.
If you own a business or if you are a company executive, expectations are set around performance and accountability.
Ways to Avoid Having Unrealistic Expectations At Work
Understand your strengths and weakness
Knowing what you are good at, and what you are not so that when you speak to your manager or supervisor, you give them a realistic picture of you so that the training they provide you is a guide to being a better employee, hence improving your productivity.
As an employee, your manager or supervisor will always have expectations around project deadlines, yearly goals /achievements, and you must do your best to meet them. If you are failing to meet them, set time aside to discuss with your managers what concerns you have and ask for help.
Avoid Burnout- Learn to Say No Politely
Taking on too much work will most likely lead to stress and burnout. If you are one of those who are unrealistic about what they take on, you will eventually crash. It is important to list what you have going on at the moment and know their deadlines.
This way, if someone approaches you with something new, you can politely explain why you cannot take it at the moment and let them know when it will be an excellent time to add it to your list.
Let Your Priorities Be Known
If you do not communicate your priorities, goals, or plans, how are others supposed to manage their expectations of you?
When you have a schedule for what needs your urgent attention, you can precisely outline what you will be focusing on this today, week, upcoming month, or so.
The key is communication; what are you currently working on, and when can you take on their request? This may help you negotiate a realistic time frame.
It is essential always to ask your manager, business partner, or clients about their expectations.
Customer service is essential, and your customers deserve your honesty. Have clear instructions about what they want and when.
You should do what you promise, and if you cannot, then communicate to those you committed to. Managing expectations at work is all about communicating.
Managing Personal Expectations
When I started this blog, I sent it to my circle for friends, relatives, posted blog posts on social media and expected a lot of support from my circle and social media friends. Getting the blog started and running was one of my most significant achievements at that time, and I was happy. So I couldn’t wait to share the blog posts.
Unfortunately, it did not go as planned. Very few people took the time to read what I was writing about or even share it on their social media platforms.
It was another reminder that we should not have big expectations from people. Sometimes our expectations are unrealistic, based on what we do for others and requiring the same from them.
Another example of managing your expectations is being mindful of your timeline as you set goals and have a realistic plan to get you there.
It is easy to feel like a failure, and we criticize ourselves for failure and feel disappointed when we do not live up to our dreams. Instead, learn as you go!
You will have better outcomes if you set goals that you have some hope of making.
Managing Other People’s Expectations
When you get a job, your employer expects several things from you, including getting to work on time, completing projects by their target deadlines, being respectful, being a hard worker, being a team player, and sometimes working on the weekends or whenever requested.
These are just a few things of what you are expected of at work. Outside your job, your parents, relatives, friends, and siblings each have their expectations of you.
Expectations are part of life, but the problem emerges when we place too much importance on what other people want us to be.
We then lose sight of who we indeed are.
So, how should you manage other people’s expectations of you?
It can be challenging to change what others expect of you, but that can improve when you take time to build your relationships with others—and with yourself.
“When you stop expecting people to be perfect, you can like them for who they are.”
― Donald Miller
Managing expectations of others starts with accepting their flaws and learning to accept them for who they truly are. Seeing people for who they are and getting them provides them an opportunity to build a trusting foundation, where they will accept you for who you are. You should train people on what expectations they have depending on what you offer them.
If you are working with a team of people, make it a point to show your appreciation, especially when they go the extra mile to deliver excellent performance.
If you appreciate your colleagues’ hard work and great ideas are, then they will do the same for your hard work and ideas. Let your action set expectations in other people’s mind.
However, if you are constantly going out of your way and doing the most for everyone around you, it may be time to self reflect on what you need and find a new job or a move to another department, that will appreciate what you have to offer.
Please leave a comment below, as I would like to know how you are managing expectations in your relationships, at work, and how it has helped you take your productivity to the next level.