For Those Who Have A Complicated Relationship With Feedback
Sara Ismail-Beigi Bartlett speaks with guests about their ideas, perspectives, and best practices regarding feedback. For some, this process can be alarming, but it is essential and a key basis for improvement.
In this episode Sara shares the concept Managing Expectations, for an all new Business Bite! This is something that is crucial, rather being a manager, individual contributor or running a large unit of an organization. When thinking about managing and setting expectations, Sara talks three elements to consider. Ultimately ensuring that expectations are behavior based, clear and culturally bound. Want to hear more Business Bites? Subscribe to the podcast today!
Welcome to Business Bites. My name is Sara. This is the podcast for busy professionals who want the quick hits of business terminology, historical context, and strategies for integration. This week we're going to be talking about managing expectations.
This is something that's crucial whether you're a manager, individual contributor, or running a large unit of an organization. When we're talking about managing and setting expectations, I want you to think about this in the frame of three key areas. Ensuring that the expectations are behavior-based, that they're clear, and that they're culturally bound. I'm going to dive into each of those, but again, think about this in your organization and how this actually plays out.
Let's start with behavior-based. If you're familiar with behavioral-based interviewing, you know that there's an idea of interviewing a candidate for a specific behavior and or competency that you'd like them to exhibit. But when we're talking about behavior-based on expectation side, we really need to be explicit about what we're asking that person to do. Let's say I come up with the idea of you should show me teamwork or act as a member of a team. When I have pulled training audiences about what does it mean to be a team player or a team member, I get answers varying from chip in when you're needed, or finish all of your work, or complete your responsibilities and then identify more work to do to asking for help to providing help. Again, all different definitions of the word team member.
In an organization, if we're going to again tie it to be behaviorally-based, I need to be really explicit to folks about what exactly I'm expecting them to do as team. Is it, finish all of your work and make sure that you're being held accountable to your tasks or is it chipping with others when they need help? Those are two different things. I may want an employee to do both of those, but if I do want them, I need to be explicit of do all of your work and then look for other work to be done. That's what team member looks like. So again, we can have the idea of team player as a behavior we'd like people to show, but specificity around how does that actually look in the day-to-day is really important for folks.
Next, I want to talk about having it be clear. Now, again, this is another area where I get folks to say, of course, my expectations are clear. And I would challenge you to think about, is it actually clear for anyone to understand or does it only make sense in your context? For example, I was working with an individual in an IT area and he and I were working on a project together. We were going to be updating an area of software. And when we were talking about that project, this individual assured me, "Sara, this is going to be transparent. It's going to be operating smoothly. You're not even going to have to worry about it."
Now, fast forward three weeks and everything's breaking. Now, something had gone wrong in the system. And when it came to it, I went back to that person. I said, "You said this was going to be transparent." And he said, "Yes, I had hoped you wouldn't even notice it." Now, for him, the term transparent means happening behind the scenes. It would be transparent to me, meaning I would not be able to see that the change had occurred. But for me, my clarity around the term transparency is that I would be informed that I would be updated, that I would know when it was going to happen. Again, we used a word and assumed that we both had the same understanding for it and didn't actually clarify the expectation between us both. Was he going to be doing it behind the scenes or was he going to be prompting me when that change was going to occur?
The last aspect around setting expectations is, are they culturally bound? Now, when I typically talk about culturally bound, people say, "Sara, we all operate in the same city, or we're all in the same country. We don't need to think about it being culturally bound. And I would encourage you to think about culture as a part of a work unit. Now, let's say you work in an environment that has multiple shifts. Let's say first, second, and third. Can you honestly tell me that the atmosphere, the culture of first shift is the same as second shift? Or is it even the same as third shift? Let's say you have individuals who are working hybrid, sometimes in the office and sometimes at home. Can you really tell me that the work environments and the cultures are the same? Let's say you have two offices, again, within the same city but one is on the east side, one is on the west side, is the culture in those offices really the same? Are the expectations really the same? As far as arrival time, as far as how people are dressing or showing up to work, as far as how people communicate with each other.
An easy way to check this within teams is to ask the question, if I'm starting in your organization and my start time, let's say my work day is officially supposed to start at 8:00 a.m., what time do you think I should arrive to work? When I've asked this question in organizations, I've gotten a wide range of responses all the way for you should be there 15 minutes early, you should be there 5 minutes early, or don't care what time you come as long as you're ready to go at 8:00. That's a huge spectrum of variation. And that's what I'm talking about culturally bound. Again, everyone's a little bit different, and every leader is a little bit different in how they enforce and how they interpret organizational expectations. That's where culturally bound comes in. Do you have clarity to understand by different location, by different section, by different work team? What is that expectation for this group and how consistent is it from group to group, or from team to team, or from location to location?
This has been Sara with Business Bites. You can reach me at [email protected]. We would love to hear from you on what other terminology that you'd like bite-sized. As always, give us a quick rating on your platform of choice, and share this podcast with a friend. We'll see you next time.