Nobody Rises To Low Expectations

If you are dealing with a mediocre team or average performance from people, check what you are expecting from them. People respond to expectations (implicit and explicit) and raising the bar of expectations is a great way to enable growth and potential in people.

Raising Expectations Doesn’t Mean Pressurizing People

Setting high expectation means providing clarity of purpose, helping people find meaning of their work, helping them see what success looks like and then helping them along the way. It is a common misconception that the only way to raise expectations is to put undue pressure on people. Pressure can help people perform, but only till a certain point beyond which it results in a burnout. In a creative world of work, people step up when they know the difference their effort can make. It is a leader’s job to enable the ecosystem of conversation, clarity and collaboration.

To Believe that People Can Do Better

When you raise expectations, people will falter. The key is to have a belief that people can do better. It is easy to give up on someone and blame their limitations. It is incredibly hard to handhold, believe, enable and help.

Know Where to Raise Expectations

To be able to set the expectations higher, a leader has to have a deep understanding of the work people do. As a leader, if you don’t understand the nuances of how work is done, you will never be able to raise the bar for others. Leader also needs ability to decide when to focus on details (activities, task, operational aspects) and when to see a broad picture (values, behaviors, methods, results etc).

Finally…

Once you raise expectations, be a catalyst of their performance. When you see their efforts towards raising the bar, acknowledge it early and often. Celebrate small milestones because appreciation is the fuel of high performance. Fail to do this and people will fall into the trap of “it is never enough” mindset. When they know that you are raising expectations only to squeeze something out of them, they will soon disengage.

Bottomline: If you are a leader at any level (yes, parents are leaders too), do keep raising the bar of expectations. You will be surprised to see how people step up and respond!

By the way, this also applies to expectations that you have from your own self!

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Thanks to Sebastian Andreo for sharing his view via Twitter on acknowledging, appreciating and celebrating the efforts. I updated the post.

Great Quote: Learning to say “No”

In my first job, my immediate colleagues cursed me for my inability to say no – and my boss loved me for that! I said yes to everything that was given to me – and then stretched thin to get it done. At times, this even landed me in terrible situations just because I did not say no. I realized, the very hard way, that learning to say no is a very important career skill. This was even more relevant when I started managing projects.

Learning to say no is so crucial to manage clients expectations and avoid scope creep. Today’s quote comes from Schalk Klee’s blog – where he emphasizes that how to say no is as important as saying no. Here it goes –

“Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough.” – Josh Billings

How often do you say no and how often do you say yes to right things?