Commentary 2

The Power of Expectations

...by Aaron Brooks

I have been on a very interesting journey the last few years at UNIS LUMIN.  Due to the growth of our company, I have had an opportunity to tackle some unique and exciting roles, that in some cases, I probably wasn’t qualified for.  It has been an amazing experience and I attribute a majority of my success to the people I have had the pleasure of working with.   But when asked what lessons I’ve learned over the last few years and to what I attribute these opportunities, the two elements I talk most about are the power of expectations and socialization.  I can’t speak to both this time around, so today I thought I’d focus on the power of expectations.

Expectation Defined
  • Belief about (or mental picture of) the future
  • Wishing with confidence of fulfillment
  • The feeling that something is about to happen

If you look at the above definition, it’s clear that the owner of "expectations” is one’s self.  Our perception of upcoming events, our belief in how things will unfold, our hope that things turn out a certain way, lay in our control.  Think back to a time you expected something to happen where the outcome was completely different and how that made you feel? 

Expectations not only frame the success of outcomes, but also guide us in our attitudes and behaviors when working towards goals.  In business we have all been in a position where reality and expectations are not aligned.  When this happens we are left with a multitude of feelings, both good and bad, and often in a state of adaptation, reaction or recovery to bring expectations back in alignment with the new reality.  Not a very fun place to be, and at its core is the element of surprise or change and how to deal with next steps towards realignment.

Here is a common example to give context:   You walk into your performance review thinking you have done a great job all year, your peers like you, your customers are happy with your work.  You are shocked to find out that your boss feels you are lacking in some critical areas, and this is holding you back from advancement.

(See January’s Polaris Digest for commentary on negative performance reviews)

At its purist, an employee’s expectations of what makes for good performance is sometimes different from that of the person performing the performance review.  I for one have experienced this, but on the side of Management, not employee.  As a manager, you really have to ask yourself "have I identified and set my expectations of them and their role as part of my team”. 

Let’s now look at the critical content of the Polaris program that we have been focusing on thus far.  Yes, it helps us better take inventory of ourselves and gives us greater insight into who we are, but an even greater benefit is the impact these tools have in helping us set expectations and manage change.

Polaris Item

Helps us set expectations…

Personal Action Plan

Set expectations with ourselves on how we plan to grow and create success

Management Philosophy

Set expectations of them on communication, behavior and attitude and goals.

Leadership Philosophy

Set expectations with peers, superiors and employees in how we plan to execute our leadership vision

Personal Covenant

Set expectations with your direct manager on what they can expect from you

By using these plans, convents and philosophies as methods to set expectation, you help clarify goals, outcomes and behavior while reducing risk of misalignment and the impact this has on driving success for ourselves and our employees.  We often hear in sports that players are moved because they don’t fit the system, the coach or teams philosophy.  Sports does a great job of setting expectations and then holding its members accountable, we, as managers and leaders, need to do the same.

Setting expectation is one thing, ensuring they are known and consistent is the next challenge, enter….socialization.