“If you want to meet expectations.”

Do you want to meet expectations?                        I want

Are you running a business or service and you want to meet your customer’s expectations, so they are satisfied, keep coming back and may even recommend you? Are you working in a group and want to do your part, fulfilling your component of the project and being affirmed for it? Or are you simply trying to follow up in your promise to family or friends so that you maintain your part in the relationships?

While it seems obvious that we would want to meet the expectations of both ourselves and others, it is never a given. What do we need to know and do to make sure we are on track to meet expectations?

  1. If we hope to meet expectations, we need to know exactly what they are. Before you say, “well duh”, let me assure you that in my work as a leader, coach and consultant, I am constantly asking for specific expectations, and often find they are not there. For example, I ask for the job description the person is working from, and there is none, or just a few lines of generic babble. Not helpful! If we do not realize what these expectations are, we will have difficult time showing we have met them. Do you know specifically what is expected of you, so when you have accomplished it, you can point to it? We always begin by realizing as explicitly as possible what is to be expected.
  2. If we hope to meet expectations, we need to determine if they are reachable. Specific objectives and goals are great, but are they realistic? Can we really increase sales by 20%? Are we comfortable in saying we will be able to make those payments? Are we simply guessing how many will buy what we are building? This is not to douse anyone’s hopes or dreams, but nothing deflates more than setting the bar so high that we cannot possibly reach it. After we realize our expectations, we need to analyze them – how realistic are they? The acrostic SMART goals is wisely incorporated here: Specific/Measurable/Achievable/Realistic/ Timeline attached.
  3. Finally, if you hope to meet expectations, you have to have agreement with your team, group, family – whoever you are working with to fulfill those expectations. Again, it may seem simple, but how many times do we get into the project, believing we have buy-in, only to discover we are on our own? This may be because we have assumed others agreed (Did we ask? Did we confirm?) or because we believe others will simply buy in as we go along. Some of my greatest frustrations and failures can be linked to my proud yet foolish assumption others were following where I was leading. How much better if I would have initiated that conversation from the outset and be assured there was agreement from the team, group, family I was working with. We must verbalize our expectations when we work with others, and make sure we are synthesizing together. We may have buy in, or we may need to negotiate. Better to work out those agreements on the front end, and avoid the surprise of team revolt or mutiny down the road.

Do you want to meet expectations? Of course we want to meet expectations, and have everyone happy. That’s why following the simple plan of realizing – analyzing – verbalizing and synthesizing can provide great guidelines to help us meet expectations. For more help, read “What do you expect?”, and learn how to incorporate this simple plan into your projects.

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© Brian F. Reynolds BFRspace 2014

“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press (www.scarletcordpress.com).

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“But I expected so much more.”

Boyhood-trailer

Spoiler alert: If you have not seen the film, “Boyhood” and plan to see it and don’t want to know these details, bookmark this site and come back after you see it.

Richard Linklater’s film Boyhood follows the twelve year journey of Mason (actor Ellar Coltrane) and his family in Texas. Linklater, as both writer and director, shot the film over twelve years by regrouping his actors for several days to observe where the family was at each year of their journey. This may sound bland and pedantic, but he manages to draw us into this family’s relationships by allowing us to watch ordinary experiences and how they affect each one. By movies end, we have watched them grow up, or grow older, and have seen the same actors in character develop before our eyes.

The key scene for me was near the end, when Mason’s mother, played to perfection by Patricia Arquette, breaks down crying as he prepares to leave for college. She tells her son this “is the worst day of my life…do you know how long I have dreaded this day?” He then asks the question which you know I would tell him to ask: “What did you expect?” (I silently cheered, spilling my popcorn.) And mom’s response? “I thought there would be more.”

We are never told what “more” was she expected. Truth be told, she probably didn’t know, either. Like the Peggy Lee classic from the late ‘60’s, Is That All There Is?, we have a question that is asked more from emotional pain than from factual basis. We can be sitting in the midst of plenty, but we still ask, “is that it?” Perhaps the ultimate question of the existentialist who admits to existence, but comes up short as to why and what for.

Have you ever felt like that? “But I expected more.” You are surely not alone. Now, why not go back and think…what did you expect?

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© Brian F. Reynolds BFRspace 2014

“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press (www.scarletcordpress.com).

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Helping our kids manage expectations.

recessions_survival_guide_kids_pm-thumb-270x270A young mom recently shared with me an incident with her son that showed how understanding expectations can help in parenting. This mom, (I’ll call her Angie, not her real name), was dealing with her seven year old, whose anger was ratcheting up by the minute. It had even come to the point of hitting and punching. In the midst on his outbursts and her growing frustration, she wisely stopped and asked him, “Do you want to do this?” His response gave some hope, since he stopped as well and replied, “No, mommy.”

Angie had recently been reading my book, so he brought the book to her as something to read to him. She told him, “this book reminds me of you”, which hooked him in to want to discuss this. “How come?” “Well, your anger seems to get out of control, but I don’t know what it is you expect.” Her son was quick to answer that, “Well, this morning you and dad said I couldn’t watch TV, but never said why. We usually get to watch TV every morning, so that made me mad.” His disappointment built into anger which percolated during the day and built to the rage she now faced.

Angie learned something: talk about expectations with your kids. Ask them what they expect, and why they expect it. Her son’s disappointment, which was real and understandable, set the tone for the day. It triggered the frustration and anger that ultimately resulted in his outburst.

Our children need to have a place to express their expectations, and we need to open that conversation by asking the question, “What do you expect?” When we find that out, we may be a lot closer to understanding what is behind their actions and behaviours. And to helping them gain some perspective and self control.

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© Brian F. Reynolds BFRspace 2014

“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press (www.scarletcordpress.com).

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“How do you handle disappointment?”

Tim HudakIt’s the morning after the Ontario provincial election, and the face of Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak said it all. Extreme disappointment. The polls had predicted a dead heat between Hudak, Kathleen Wynne and Andrea Horvath. But the results were a resounding defeat for challenger Hudak. His party lost ten seats, so any hope of a tight race evaporated quickly, and his fate was sealed.

How will he handle his disappointment? He began by tendering his resignation as leader in his speech last evening. He steps away from his role and has other decisions to make. How he handles them will speak of his ability to move forward.

How do you handle disappointment? Do you retreat? Walk away, withdraw, pull back? Or do you rage – explode, let it all out, get it out of your system? Or perhaps you regret, saying “if only….”, dreaming of what might have been.

My suggestion is to realign, to let the disappointment bring us back to reality, so we can reassess things and align with the way things really are.

For Tim Hudak, he has realized his message did not resonate with voters, and his leadership has not advanced his party, so withdrawal is understandable. My hope is he will realign his expectations and find a new path that leads him to better results in future endeavours.

And for you? Where are you facing disappointment? Is it a place where you need to realign?

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© Brian F. Reynolds BFRspace 2014

“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press (www.scarletcordpress.com).

 

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“Why am I writing a book on …disappointment?”

“Hey Brian, what are you writing on next?”disappointment (2)

“Disappointment…”

“Disappointment?! That sounds happy. Why write on THAT!”

That’s a fair question….why write on disappointment? Shouldn’t I be writing on something positive, something upbeat, something…you know, nice? Well, I get that question, and I might prefer to be writing on happier matters, but when I speak on expectations, this seems to be the topic that hits a nerve with most people. We live lives of quiet, private disappointment. And we often don’t know what to do with that.

How do you handle disappointment? Many say they simply keep that part of their lives to themselves, and don’t share it much. But it’s there, it just does not go away. Is there some way we can we handle it?

As I write on this, I invite you to share your stories with me. If I use your story, I will give you a credit in the book, and a free copy of the book when it is released. If you prefer not to use your name, we will honour that request, as well. I have heard some important stories of disappointment, and yours may be one we need to hear. It need not be that you have resolved your disappointment, only that you live with it. If you want to share how you cope, we welcome that, too.

To share your story, please contact me at brian@whatdoyouepxect.ca.

I look forward to hearing what you can share on this matter. I hope you will look forward to the book when it comes out.

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© Brian F. Reynolds BFRspace 2014

“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press (www.scarletcordpress.com).

 

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“Make sure those expectations are reasonable.”

Toronto’s hockey team is in a freefall as the playoffs are nearing, and the finger pointing is in full swing. On Tuesday evening the Leaf captain, defenseman Dion Phaneuf, had one of his worst games, which even he had to admit yesterday on talk radio. Humbling, indeed.dion-phaneuf

In a Globe and Mail article this morning, James Mirtle did a good job analyzing this using expectations. As the title says, “Phaneuf a victim of the expectations game”. (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/leafs-beat/mirtle-lofty-expectations-see-phaneuf-under-fire-as-leafs-fade-in-the-playoff-race/article17689999/).

He points out, “They (Calgary, his last team) didn’t trust Phaneuf to do the heavy lifting. And it makes you wonder how much he’s been miscast in Toronto.” He goes on to say that Phaneuf’s role here places him in more shifts in the defensive zone, while his strengths seem to lie at the other end.

So what to do? Mirtle’s concern is that the Leafs are miscasting their top defenseman. “He is a good but flawed player….but if the Leafs continue to cast him as a king….the mixed results are at least partly on them.” His conclusion: “More reasonable expectations wouldn’t hurt either.”

Whether we are drafting, trading, hiring, appointing – however we are putting someone in a role to succeed, if we do not take into consideration their abilities and strengths, we are being unrealistic. And that way, everyone loses.

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© Brian F. Reynolds BFRspace 2014

“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press (www.scarletcordpress.com).

 

 

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“Some things you just cannot predict.”

We have just come through a move from one city to another. We love our new home, and were happy to have a buyer for our previous home firmed up quite quickly. Everything seemed to be moving along well, and then…BOOM….we had a leak in the basement, courtesy of the extreme winter weather which open a crack in the foundation wall. It showed up at the most inopportune time, as we were ready to hand over. Ugh, who would have predicted this?

No one, of course.        moving-van-636

I have already written on the silly notion of “expecting the unexpected”, and shown that is really a meaningless statement. Our issue was not that we did not expect the unexpected, but that we could never predict this turn of events.

The good news is we worked out a compromise to conclude the deal and we have moved on, with thanksgiving and relief. But we also realize that expectations are fluid, and what seems smooth and clear one minute can turn to trouble very quickly. Why? Because life is so often unpredictable.

I will follow up on this subject with some other thoughts on unpredictably in the next few posts. Meanwhile, keep yourself flexible, who knows what may be coming up next.

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© Brian F. Reynolds BFRspace 2014

“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press (www.scarletcordpress.com).

 

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Filed under Business and Organizations, General Interest, Home and Family, Leadership, News and Views, Religion and Spirituality