Monthly Archives: July 2013

#215 The weight of expectations

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Wherever you go in the workplace, you will feel the weight of expectations. It can be inspiring and energizing, and you can raise your performance because you are expected to. It can be crushing, and many high profile careers have imploded under the weight of fan expectations.

The following points are worth noting about expectations:

  • Expectations exist because people tend to “judge” quickly and have difficulty suspending judgment. This is natural, don’t make it worse by judging people who have expectations.
  • It is prudent to set expectations before your audience sets one for itself. This is easier said than done, a diverse audience and limited time means you will pick and choose the audience for which you will set expectations. The ones you ignore will be disappointed.
  • Don’t make it worse by setting unrealistic expectations for yourself.
  • Setting the right expectation is more trial and error than science. This means, learn from your mistakes, apologize and adjust quickly. Prepare diligently to have a better shot at setting the right expectation.
  • You may have no expectation of yourself. This is a state of mind that requires complete openness and flexibility.
  • If you think to yourself, “I cannot do it,” you have negative expectations of yourself.

Not meeting expectations can be demoralizing. Unfortunately, the negative feedback and “judgment” received over he years leave scars that are hard to ignore or remove. The first step is to stop the “self talk” in your head, both positive and negative. Be in the moment and go with the flow. The proper expectations will begin to reveal themselves.


#214 Catalyst for change

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In most organizations, the employees know what the problem is. They may not have a nice, watertight definition, they may not know the root causes, or they may not be organized to drive change. This understanding is crucial for preparing for managing change.

Internal employees who wish to drive change typically lack credibility. After all, each person has a role to fulfill, and thus will likely be biased by their charter and agenda. Enter the consultant.

A consultant’s neutrality is valuable, so long as they are not trying to further their agenda and demonstrate how smart they are. Any attempts by consultants to “take over” the business is fraught with danger and doomed for failure.

A consultant will have value when they build on what exists, and acknowledge the current state, applaud its strengths, and validate the limitations. Consultants who brandish a shortcoming with glee, and hope to be hired to fix the problem have just lowered their chances of success.

Consultants who declare their intent to make themselves obsolete, to make the organization self sufficient, and bring stakeholders along the path of change step by step will provide real value. Unless the organization owns the problem and solution, true change will be hard to come by.

Consultants also make convenient scapegoats when things don’t work out. The better consultants will avoid this pitfall and guard against it. The best way to guard against it is to avoid portraying themselves as the savior for the organization.