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Setting Expectations

May 18, 2011
By Jerry Murray

Categories: Leadership & Organizational Development

Setting Expectations

May 20, 2011

Setting Expectations by Jerry Murray

My friend Brian Kurtz, owner at Elite Coach in Ephrata, PA recently expressed that “if you want to frustrate people, hold them accountable to unclear expectations.”  I agree wholeheartedly with Brian on this one.  Everyone pays the price for a leader’s failure to set clear expectations.

Expectations directly impact how we experience life. I can find myself either satisfied or dissatisfied by the very same results, depending on my expectations.  Considering that both personal contentment and organizational health are at stake, let’s think through some surefire ways to avoid the pitfalls of unclear expectations.

  1. First things first – ask yourself what you truly expect regarding the results of a particular outcome or event.  Consider… is my expectation realistic  given the task and resources to accomplish it?
  2. Next, as often as possible, engage team members to help refine your expectations. The greater the level of team member involvement, the greater the level  of commitment and understanding.
  3. When communicating expectations, be direct.  Give your team a chance to meet expectations by delivering a straight forward message.  Sugarcoating expectations may seem “nice” in the short term, but the lack of clarity that ensues will lead to frustration in the end.
  4. Over-communicate expectations.  Set expectations, confirm understanding,  repeat expectations.  We all miss things, whether because of our attention span, learning style or timely distractions.  When expectations matter, they are worth repeating.
  5. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, be consistent to hold team members accountable to unmet expectations.  Haphazard enforcement of unmet expectations will create doubt about whether you truly mean what you say, in essence putting your integrity as a leader in question.

In light of these thoughts regarding expectation setting, I feel like it would be appropriate to set a few expectations regarding North Points, North Group’s brand new blog.

  • Frequency – As we get our feet wet using this communication medium, we will post blog entries on or around the 5th and 20th of each month.
  • Authorship – Each of our consultants will author North Points entries. We believe that the variety of thoughts and experiences of our team, filtered through our shared core values will  provide relevant insights while demonstrating our practice and theory – that shared leadership, rooted in shared values yields optimal results.
  • Topics – We plan to cover a variety of topics including: family business, succession, leadership development, team building, personal development, business development, non-profit leadership, strategic planning, leadership transitions and balanced living.
  • Your feedback – We would be grateful for your feedback regarding North Points and the specific topics discussed. If you would find it valuable to go deeper regarding issues impacting culture, organization and leadership, please contact us. Direct your feedback to any of us individually or to

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