Listen as we discuss the merits of shifting your expectations to agreements.
Hi, this is Michael Carlin, president of Henry+Horne Wealth Management with your Manage the Funds podcast. Today, we’re going to do something different. We’re going to talk about something I wish that I had known earlier in my business career. It even has aspirational aspects to it, too. Think about one of the most damaging things that you can do in the workplace. You’re probably thinking screaming at somebody, which is obviously not good. I don’t want to push someone down the stairs. There’s a lot of bad things that you could do in the workplace. But one of the most damaging by far is having expectations. If you haven’t heard of how dangerous it is to have expectations of people in the workplace, you’re going to learn something over the next few minutes.
When you’re in the office you can either relate to people by having expectations of their behavior or their work performance. Or you can have agreements. If you have expectations of someone, expect those expectations to create anxiety. I mentioned this being damaging to relationships and it creates fear in others. When you have expectations of someone, it’s so easy to be disappointed. If you have an expectation of someone, they can either fail to meet that expectation or meet your expectation. And then what? Nothing. That’s what I thought you were going to do. I expected when I gave you this assignment you were gonna do it quickly and I expected you to do it really well. So what’s the benefit?What’s the win?
I see clients who have employees in work environments in some of those offices. They have lower morale than I’d like to see and in cases where we can start to see the production level drop within their workforce. I talk with clients all the time about their business, because we’re not just about managing money, we’re about helping clients holistically. Your business is creating income and net worth for your family so we’re engaged in that. When I talk to clients about improving their culture, we talk about how to improve the outcomes at work. And when I talk to clients in depth about what’s going on, they’ll say things like my employees, they’re not doing enough. My employees aren’t getting things done. My employees are missing deadlines. They’ll say that to me. They’ll say that my employees not being creative enough. They’re not doing enough things to push things in the organization forward. You hear these things over and over and over again. And I’ll admit it before I really understood expectations I was one of those people too. But now I know better.
I’ll ask the client something and it really changes the conversation. I’ll say, oh got it, so what agreements did you have about those deadlines? What agreements were in place for them to strive to do more? What kind of things are you agreeing to? I see aggravation. It’s clear that there are expectations that aren’t being met, and it’s breaking down the relationship within the organization. And it’s not creating a real healthy environment either.
And the same can be said about employees. They can miss a deadline because they don’t have enough support to get things done and you’re missing an opportunity to potentially forge an agreement, to come together, to listen to one another and to develop a better path forward to accomplish what you want to accomplish if you’re the business owner. You know what you want to see if you’re the manager. You know what you need to see from your employees if you’re the employee.
You’re given a bunch of stuff to get done. It doesn’t matter who you are in the business cycle within your company. You know when there are expectations, it’s daunting. Am I even meeting my expectations? Am I doing well? I don’t know. You can change all that when you have an agreement. I’ll tell you about some of the things in my own office. So prior to understanding this, expectations challenges, I would say listen, after your meeting with clients, I expect an e-mail to go out the same day. And certainly no later than the day following. And when it doesn’t happen, I get frustrated. Why didn’t you get that e-mail out? I don’t understand what part of I expect you to get this done didn’t you get?
Instead, what if we had an agreement? What if the agreement was we just met with Mr. Jones. What do you need to get an email out to wrap things up over the next day or so? Say, well, actually, I’ve got to do a bunch of research and I need your help on a couple of different items. And because I have got meetings the rest of the day, it probably won’t be till the end of the day tomorrow when I can get that out. Oh, all right, well, got it.
So what kind of information do you need from me? And then we have an exchange where they explained to me this is what they need from me in order to get what I want done for the client. Can we create an agreement? Got it. So now I know what you need for me. You know what I want from you, and we’re agreeing that’s gonna be done. Close of business tomorrow. Sound good? Good.
Now we’ve got something. It allows my employee an opportunity to share with what they need to succeed. They feel heard and understood. I’ve now created a bond where when something is done with an agreement, everyone can feel good about it. It’s no longer an expectation. I used to walk around annoyed because I expect everyone here to be writing an article once a month. Then it wouldn’t happen.
No agreement, no agreement. Agreements are more powerful. Think of it as a verbal contract. As human beings, we don’t want to let someone else down. We don’t want to. If you’re in a work environment, you don’t want to let anyone else down, especially if it’s your boss. You don’t want to let him down. If it’s your employees, you want to lift them up. An agreement allows you to set the stage so you can make that relationship work at its highest order.
Again, people like keeping their agreements, knowing the upfront challenges. Negotiating and figuring out the agreement is critical. You know what’s fun is this. Not only does this agreement versus expectation thing work at work. If you think about it, it works at home too. My mom had expectations of me and expectations of men and expectations of like when she go to the grocery store. Over her whole life she had expectations. If she were still here, she would freely admit that she was regularly disappointed, readjust and regularly disappointed with everyone. You get together with family around the holidays. You’ve got expectations. She’s that person, didn’t really seem too happy to me me.
I’m expecting this person to ask me how I’m doing or how I’m feeling or if I’ve got this. You’re walking around with expectations and everyone in the family’s got expectations. Imagine having none. How freeing might that be? If you find yourself upset with people all the time and you’re let down by people at work and in your personal, If you feel like people are betraying you personally, you’re likely a person living with this impossible world of expectations surrounding you.
And if you come to agreements with your friends and your family members, just about some basic ways you want the relationship to work, people aren’t going to want to let you down. This allows both sides to negotiate, to come to an understanding of something, some kind of common bond. Say this is how we’re gonna get this done. I think you’d be pleasantly surprised with all the good things that can happen, because I can tell you that as soon as I adopted that philosophy it helped a lot with work. People weren’t missing deadlines, things were getting done. People that said they were going to strive to grow the business. We had now definable ways they were going to do that if they weren’t meeting expectations, if the quality of their work wasn’t meeting my expectations. I could create an agreement about how to increase and improve their quality of work. What do you need? This is what I need. This is what I can deliver. Great. We’ve got an agreement.
If at that point you have someone that’s letting you down with an agreement, you’ve got a whole different situation in your hands. You’ve got an employee or maybe even a partner, that might not be a great fit. That’s a whole different story, a whole different podcast. But at least give agreements a shot. Think about expectations. See what you can do to reduce them. I was inspired to do this by a couple of different people. Chris Doris and Steve Chandler. Chris, who introduced me to the topic, and Steve who’s done a lot of work on it. So I encourage you to take a look at Steve Chandler’s writings and he’s got a nice little podcast that you can download which unpacks this in greater detail.
I appreciate your time. Thanks so much. Take care.
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