The Expectation Conversation

September 30th, 2010

What do you do when you expect an employee, co-worker or even family member to do something and they don’t deliver? Do you blame them? Do you blame yourself?

Here is a way out.

The antidote to micromanagement — that is, others feeling micromanaged by you — is this: After you state your expectations clearly ask, “On a scale of 1-5, how likely is it that you will be able to meet my expectation?” If they say, “2”, then ask, “What is missing?”

Now here is a key part of this conversation. “Zip it.” After you have asked an important question, keep your mouth closed and your ears open. Listen to everything the other person says, everything. Don’t judge them; hear them.

When they are completely done, ask, “What can I do to support you, to help you get your efforts up to a 4 or close to a 5?”

Then, zip it, again.

If you repeat this process and really stay open to what you hear, you will inspire a spirit of collaboration. The other person will feel part of the process, not just a pawn to do as you ask.

Your expectation conversation is not complete without this piece. With it, your expectations will be met, or you will revise your expectations in line with reality. Either way, it is win/win for both people.

If you try this, please give me feedback. I welcome hearing about how you walk this through.

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