Team Expectations

– Anyway, today we’re talking about why team members end up not meeting your expectations and we’re picking stuff off of my shoulder, apparently, cause I got fuzz on my jacket, because this is something that’s been the number one topic that’s been coming up with our clients, which is they’re growing their teams and what they’re finding, actually it’s not even so much that they’re growing their teams, it’s just, they’ve had some team members, they’re starting to adjust the way that they’re addressing their team and they’re working with their team and they’re finding that the team just isn’t quite meeting the expectations. So they’ve raised their expectations, but the team members aren’t quite leveling up… So that’s what we’re gonna talk about today, we’re gonna talk about why that happens and what to do about it. And I think we can just dive in and get started unless you have any other housekeeping-y type of things you want to talk about?

 

– No, I think you’ve got enough lint off your shoulders.

 

– Yeah, thanks. So yeah, this has been coming up on a bunch of calls you were telling me so…so fill me in.

 

– Yeah, Well just thinking about one in particular yesterday had a call, coaching call, with one of our clients and she has a contractor that has been getting to a point where all of the deliverables that she’s been asking for, she keeps asking for extensions and as such, you know, the reliability of this one contractor is coming into question for her. She’s getting to the point where she doesn’t even feel like she can pass on more information or more…

 

– Yeah Like the stuff I’ve already given you is late.

 

– Yeah

 

– So, why would I give you more? But of course that’s impacting the clients, right? Because now the timelines are slipping and this is one of the biggest fears that people have when it comes to giving more ownership to their team. And this is the process that we’re going through with this client, right?

 

– Yep.

 

– And all of our clients, like how do you empower your team which means having higher expectations, and then those expectations sometimes don’t get met. And, so…

 

– It’s like it’s like a self-fulfilling cycle, right? You’re worried about it happening, and then it ends up happening and then it’s like, I knew this was gonna happen, and you end up not giving over, not feeling comfortable giving over more of the things that you could be giving over otherwise.

 

– Yeah, and so you end up taking the work back and it ends up back on your plate and then the problem doesn’t get solved you just go and you’ve created a new problem.

 

– Exactly.

 

– So with this one client, you said you were doing a coaching call with her yesterday, so talk a little bit more about the specifics of the situation. So what exactly was going on that was creating the expectations to not be met.

 

– Yeah, so this one particular client, the employee, well she is not an employee, she is actually a contractor.

 

– Yeah.

 

– The contractor basically was coming back and essentially asking for more time and more time, and the comment that she, that I was being told was that essentially other things were being prioritized and not the client’s work.

 

– Now, is that… how does she know that this was the right stuff wasn’t being prioritized? Was that she just guessing or how did you know what the actual root problem was?

 

– The contractor actually indicated that to her,

 

– Okay.

 

– That, you know, I’ve got this other thing that absolutely has to be done, I need to push your deliverable back.

 

– Right, and I mean this is one of the challenges you often have with contractors because with contractors, you’re the client, and they’re trying to juggle multiple clients instead of your clients being the client, in which case, you know, it’s about helping your team to prioritize, you can’t really do that with a contractor, but I mean, you can’t solve that problem, you can’t just say, Oh, all of a sudden you have to just work on my priorities. So what was actually the root cause that was going on? Cause that’s the root cause that the contractor gave, but that’s not the root cause of why there was an expectation mismatch.

 

– Yeah, and so that’s the key thing, and even when you’re dealing with employees this is very key, is being clear on your expectations because one of the things that happens is so often we’re not descriptive enough or explicit enough in what we expect

 

– Right.

 

– and how we expect it to come across.

 

– So how did that happen in this case? What was the expectation that wasn’t given clearly?

 

– So in this case, the expectation that wasn’t given clearly was that this needed to be done absolutely at this time and there was no room for the contractor to push back.

 

– I guess I don’t understand why, you know, this sounds like a very easy problem to solve, which is to just give the contractor more time and set the deadline, but that doesn’t work all the time.

 

– No, it does.

 

– So what is actually going on here with this expectation? Like I can set the expectation, I can say, you need to have this done by this deadline and the contractor can still go and say, no, I’m not going to do that. So what is actually going on there?

 

– Yeah, so that’s one of those pieces where you start to see an impact on the respect and the

 

– Right.

 

– The is this even the right person to be working for you? Where are their priorities and what are they matching yours?

 

– Yeah. But I think there’s also an element too, of like looking, because this is when we do performance management, the first thing we do is we say, how can we take accountability for this response result?

 

– Yep.

 

– Right, so like for me, one of the things I wouldn’t be asking is how long did you give the contractor to work on this? Was this a deadline that you gave them with 24 hours turnaround? Is that reasonable? Have you set up the expectation for what the expectations should be, not just for this case, but in general.

 

– Yeah, and so that’s part of what I coached her through with regards to what happened next in talking with this contractor is, what is… they hadn’t ever really said a minimum turnaround time from what I’m understanding.

 

– Or maximum.

 

– Or a maximum and as such that was one of the very first things that they needed to get in line and then get aligned with each other is what is that look like? And you’re right, that’s that very first step is in part us taking responsibility for not setting them up for success.

 

– Yeah.

 

– Right, but it’s also to getting them to acknowledge that there is a problem in the first place.

 

– Yeah. When I think, I think we were touching upon here is that the specific instance of the contractor not meeting the deadline or prioritizing over things was that was a symptom of what the real problem was, right? It wasn’t just that she didn’t tell the contractor the deadline for this one thing, it’s a broader conversation of the overall expectations around the relationship

 

– Yes.

 

– hadn’t been clearly established.

 

– Yes, exactly.

 

– So, talk a little bit about how we can do this properly. How do we make it so that we’re not just, cause this is firefighting, right? It’s each individual client, you know, there’s a problem with this and so we deal with it, and then there’s a problem with this and then we deal with it, and there’s a problem with this and then we deal with it, but we can keep firefighting or we can go to the root problem, which is putting expectations not just around the deliverables, but around the relationship as a whole. So how do you even do that so you don’t get into these firefighting situations?

 

– Yeah, and so that’s where you need to have some really clear expectations, really clear communication. One of the things that we often go through is asking about what is the end result that you’re wanting from this individual? What is the sole purpose that they’re working for you?

 

– What’s job number one?

 

– What’s job number one, exactly. Right, and then the next question becomes after you answer that, and you’re able to clearly communicate that to ensure the clear communication is to say, okay, how do you know that they’re accomplishing that job? How do you know that they’re achieving that result? What are the measures of success?

 

– Yeah.

 

– That looks like.

 

– And I think where we often get to is that when we’re setting expectations, we do the job number one part, we give them the “this is what you need to accomplish”, but we don’t define what success looks like, and defining what success looks like is actually what the expectation is.

 

– Exactly.

 

– So we end up with where we’ll say, do this and that’s the outcome that we want, but that’s not an expectation. We think we’ve communicated an expectation, but we haven’t, we’ve just given a task or an outcome to be responsible for.

 

– Yeah.

 

– The actual expectation is how do we know if that’s been done really well to the level we want.

 

– Exactly, so I’ve got another example, actually, of that, another of our clients we’ve been talking about one of her admins and the results that the admin is supposed to do is she’s supposed to manage this client’s calendar. And so for most people managing a calendar it’s kind of like putting in the appointments, taking out appointments, you know,

 

– Whatever it happens to be.

 

– Agendas, that kind of thing. But one of the expectations that wasn’t communicated in what the client

 

– What does success look like?

 

– meant for being, you know, managing my calendar was for that person to look ahead and say, okay, you know, the client has three back to back meetings and they’re all heavy meetings, so I don’t want to schedule another meeting, even if it’s a light one for her in the afternoon, because she’s gonna need some space to take a breath.

 

– So the expectation there that isn’t stated is actually around managing the energy and ensuring that no one day is gonna be too heavy.

 

– Exactly.

 

– Et cetera, et cetera. But just saying, “manage my calendar”, that’s the outcome, right? My calendar is managed is the outcome, but what does that look like? Well, it looks like there’s only so many meetings in a day. It looks like there’s…

 

– I have an hour for lunch.

 

– I have an hour for lunch, Zoom meeting links are in the URL so I don’t have to go looking for it. Like, what does success look like? So let’s go back to the example that we gave at the start here to kind of wrap this up and bring it all together. For the client who had a contractor who was missing deadlines, we have this situation of give the task, give the outcome, give the deliverable to the contractor to do it. But the expectation around that, the success measure means it needs to be done by this time, it needs to be done to this level of quality, this is the communication that I expect when it happens. And you know, usually what? three to five to eight different success criteria for a relationship, for a project for that, you know, whatever it is, that’s the difference between having expectations be clearly defined and just telling someone to do a task.

 

– Exactly, and one of the key ones actually that you didn’t mention, but in that same vein for this particular client and that contractor was to tell the contractor that, you know, if you’re not going to, if you look ahead and you know that you’re not gonna be able to get this done, don’t tell me you will.

 

– Yeah.

 

– Right? Don’t just take it because I’m your client, tell me with reasonable expectation, are you going to be able to actually get this done?

 

– Right, so all of those success criteria, it’s not about just getting it done. It’s about what does it look like when it’s done successfully? And that’s really what we want to focus, that’s what setting expectations, setting expectations isn’t saying, “this is what needs to be accomplished”. It’s this is what it looks like when it has been accomplished successfully. So if you’re in a situation and you find yourself wondering, you know, I’ve got this team member, they’re not meeting expectations, ask yourself this question, have you just given them the outcome or have you actually had a conversation about what successfully achieving that outcome looks like? Have you had agreement on that? And if you haven’t start there, because that’s the first place that you need to be looking when it comes to having those expectations be clearly set.

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