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To some, there’s an enormous difference between expectations and objectives. Our expectations are based on such factors as “the social contract”, our knowledge, and our personal experience. Objectives are rational, exhibiting little, if any, measurable bias, and are clearly communicated.
Our expectations reflect our personal biases. Expectations are often unstated — they are somehow expected to be understood. For example, we expect that adult pedestrians will not haphazardly dart in and out of vehicular traffic. That seems like a reasonable expectation, doesn’t it? We don’t often hear or read of pedestrians being killed as they burst or wander into traffic. The car is bigger, heavier, and faster — why would anyone risk serious injury or death?
Expectations being what they are, many are not met. They are often burdened by others’ expectations. For example, you expect the businessperson on the street corner, on their cellphone while dragging a wheeled suitcase along, is going to look before crossing the street in front of your car. They, on the other hand, expect every vehicle operator to see and yield to them. Someone’s expectations will be dashed, probably both.
One thing expectations rarely are, and that is “based on empirical evidence or sound policy“. Suspicions and hunches aren’t evidence. Too often, a manager comes up with “that’s the way it’s always been done”, or “that’s the way I’ve always done it and it’s always worked.” (Always? Really? Show me the numbers that bear that out.)
“It ain’t braggin’ if you c’n back it up.“
Another thing expectations never are, and that’s “communicating well with others“. The essence of a well-run company is establishing SMART objectives that everyone in the organization understands and agrees with.
If you want your expectations met, you have to state them as clearly and precisely as you can to everyone responsible for meeting them. You have to get feedback from those people so you know everyone’s on your wavelength.
“A moving target is hard to hit.“
Lucy Ricardo (“I Love Lucy”)
Do this and your expectations are no longer mere expectations — they are the company’s business objectives. Unstated expectations will always be unmet expectations.