Managing Expectations

I just returned from a weekend in the Colorado Mountains which was a great escape from the dog days of Houston’s summer. One of the activities, a bicycle ride that was billed as mostly downhill, ended up being eight miles of hard pedaling into a strong wind. Good workout but not what I expected – the bike rental guy over-promised and under-delivered. Thankfully, the reward was a burger and a beer!

While under-promising and over-delivering should be the mantra of every salesperson, for corporate leaders who have to manage the expectations of multiple stakeholders, it may be more important to promise and deliver as accurately as possible.

Some people are flexible enough to adjust to unexpected changes easily. Others need advance notice and time to buy into the changes in order to support them. If one of your team members seems resistant to change, consider how well you managed their expectations. Did you tell them it would be a tough journey and give them a chance to ask how best to prepare? Or did you gloss over the challenges and just focus on the reward?

Being aware of how you react to change can help you adjust to others with different needs. If you can take unexpected changes in stride, you will have to work extra hard at being patient with those who can’t. If you are someone who is frustrated by surprises, let others know to give you a heads up whenever possible.

See if you can spot someone this week whose response to change is similar to yours and someone whose style is different.

The Next Chapter

I heard a great quote last week: “You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading your last one.”  I learned that Michael McMillan, author of The Power of Teamwork, originated it.  He explains on his website that, “Growing from our past is productive… attempting to live there isn’t.” 

Many of my clients are high achievers with very high expectations of themselves who tend to beat themselves up over their mistakes. For those who have taken the Birkman assessment, you have a high Challenge score.  If this sounds familiar, you probably already know that you function best in an environment that provides challenges and opportunities for personal accomplishment.

Here are some suggestions for getting to the next chapter:

  • If you find yourself ruminating over something in the past, write down what you learned and how you will apply it in the future.
  • If things become too routine, seek out some new challenges.
  • Rather than automatically blaming yourself when things go wrong, identify what you can control and address that.

What will you learn from the last chapter of your life that will help you begin the next one?

 

How Can You Help Others Handle Loss?

What is My Role?

Recently, I have been very aware of the impact of loss on family members, clients and friends who have lost loved ones or learned of a terminal illness.  While I knew this was an inevitable part of life, I struggled to understand my role in these situations.  In some cases, it was to provide comfort in a very personal way.  In others, it was to offer a prayer that comfort would be provided by someone else.

 

Five Stages of Grief

Have you wondered how to help a friend or colleague who has suffered a loss and is dealing with profound sadness, confusion and fear of what lies ahead? You may be familiar with the five stages of grief as defined by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

They point out that not everyone goes through all five stages and may not experience them in this order, but it can be useful to have some idea of what to expect.  The website grief.com has good suggestions for what to say and do.

 

It’s Not About Me

One thing I have learned is that focusing on the other person rather than myself helps us both.  I invite you to keep that in mind when someone you know is grieving.

Don’t Push Me!

My trainer kept saying, “Come on, you can do this!” even though I told him my foot wasn’t rehabbed enough for jumping.  The more he insisted, the more resistant I became.  I will push myself pretty hard, but not to the point of potentially doing damage.

How Much is Too Much?

Because he wasn’t getting it I questioned my own approach to pushing my coaching clients beyond their comfort zone. It is one of the toughest things I have to do, but discomfort is sometimes necessary to stimulate behavior change.

Stretch Without Breaking

Leaders also have to find the right balance when pushing their team members.  The best way to provide challenges that will stretch people without breaking them is to invest the time to learn:

  • What motivates the person
  • What de-motivates them

Where to Start?

A personality assessment like the Birkman is a great starting point, so let me know if you would like to explore how to add this to your leadership toolkit.

Stuck Like Glue

If you are a country music fan you might know Jennifer Nettles’ song, “Stuck Like Glue” that goes, “Some days I don’t feel like trying.  Some days you know I wanna just give up.”   That song has been stuck in my head since a conversation with a close friend who is also a coach.

 

Let Me Count the Ways

My friend was describing all the areas in her life where she is stuck:  doing work she has do instead of work she wants to do; trying to decide on the status of a relationship; being frustrated with adult children who don’t have time for their mom; arranging care for aging parents.

 

How Do I Get Unstuck?

Of course, I had to ask her a coaching question: if you’re feeling stuck in all those areas, where do you need to let go? (Sometimes even we coaches need help seeing the obvious.) It was the jolt she needed to realize that she was trying too hard to control and manage everything and everybody around her.  I can empathize with that.

 

Just Give Up

So when you’re feeling stuck like glue to a situation that is causing frustration or anxiety, just give up and stop trying to control everything.

That is So Stupid!

I’m Right, You’re Wrong

How many times a day do we think or say, “That is so stupid!”? The statement infers that we are smarter than someone else, that we are right and they are wrong.  That attitude makes it impossible to find common ground in conflict resolution.

 

Where is that Getting Us?

This issue came up with two of my clients recently so I challenged them to come up with a non-judgmental word to substitute for “stupid.”  It wasn’t easy letting go of that powerful feeling of being right, but they were each frustrated enough with the lack of progress in resolving their differences with colleagues that they agreed to work on it.

 

This is Smart!

The exercise enabled my clients to see things from the other person’s perspective, and that helped them move forward.  How about you?  Are you ready to try a new approach to achieving your objectives?  If so, I invite you to consider an issue from the perspective of someone with whom you disagree.  That’s not stupid; it’s smart!