Expectations Set = Less Stress for EVERYONE

Expectations Set = Less Stress for EVERYONE

How often do people fail to impress you at work?

This is a hard question to ask yourself because it requires honesty. And sometimes true honesty can be, well…brutal.

Self-reflection isn’t easy, but I’d like to think that one of the benefits of our weird-sometimes-alternative-universe-COVID-existence is our ability to cut through the bullshit and just be honest.

Quick like a band-aide — right?

Very often when people are failing to impress you and not meeting your expectations, it’s good to stop and ask yourself:

Have you clearly set expectations for others? 

And articulated these expectations clearly?

I recently talked with a client about his work environment. He was struggling to get his team motivated and effectively transition himself into another role in the organization.

I gently asked this same question: have you told your team what you expected of them?

Instead of an answer, there were a few beats of silence.

I thought maybe we had a lag in the video call, but the client just shook his head after a minute and started taking notes furiously.

“You’re right. I haven’t set expectations, but I really need to.”

Clearly articulating what you want and need from your team — your clients, your colleagues, your partner, your kids — sets you BOTH up for success.

Without going too far into the academic weeds here, giving clear expectations and directions are a key component of motivating others.

Which makes sense, right? The clearer I am about what you [manager, partner, etc.] want and need from me, the easier it is for me to comply and meet your expectations.

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But if setting expectations is “so easy”, why don’t more people do it?

It takes time, and more importantly, clear intention to set expectations for others. In order to do a good job, you YOURSELF have to be clear about what you want and need from others.

Which isn’t always all that easy, is it?

Never fear, we’ve got you covered!

Setting Expectations for Others in THREE Steps:

STEP 1: Pick ONE issue to work on at a time. Think about what makes you crazy — the super frustrating and irritating thing that makes you want to run screaming from the building daily.

Yep, that’s the one. For example, when you walk into work, what is the first thing that you notice is done or not done? How does it make you feel?

Think about: how exactly and specifically does this situation need to be different so that you won’t have such an adverse reaction? This leads us to…

STEP 2: Make a list. Grab a pen and paper, open a note on your phone or computer. Write down HOW you want things to be different. Be as specific as possible.

For example, say when you get to work, you expect equipment to be turned on and supplies prepped. If you show up and these things are not done, you start seeing red.

Your people don’t want to deal with you when you’re pissed! Help them help you.

Get REAL specific. What exact machines need to be turned on? What supplies need to be prepped — and how exactly do I need to prep each supply? Where should they be stored when I’m done?

Yes, it takes time and energy to write all of this down…and you might feel that you “don’t have the time” to write it down.

However, it’s a LOT easier for people to comply with your request(s) when it’s in writing (read: they can go back to the list rather than ask you!). I promise you, this will be worth your time in the end!

STEP 3: Share your written expectations with others. Remember to strive to have this conversation in a calm manner. Don’t focus on the past — no one can change what has happened.

Instead, focus on the future. What can be changed moving forward to help everyone?

Ask for input and help…remind your team that you appreciate their expertise and that you can’t do this all by yourself.

And that your team makes a difference. Feeling valued is a huge part of getting buy-in!


Remember, that change is NOT EASY.

Your team might resist this kind of clear expectations setting at first.

Heck, YOU might resist this at first.

Before you know it, you’ll have MORE TIME AND ENERGY to devote to expanding, growing, and creating…rather than stuck in the same rut you’ve been in for weeks/months/years.

Take a deep breathe. You’re worth it. Your team is worth it. Take it one step at a time.

Keep rocking and I look forward to connecting with you soon!



P.S. If conflict is still adding to the stress in your life, check out a free download here.

Have a question that you want some perspective on? Email your situation to
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