We All Have Expectations We’ve Not Even Thought About
I’m not a person who likes to over plan. Still, when I get up in the morning I check in on my calendar and my obligations to have a certain idea of what needs to happen that day. After a little reflection — a few minutes of imagining, sorting, prioritizing, and ordering, I sketch together a loose picture of what, where, when, making sure to leave a couple of hours for the amazing fun surprise or the unexpected hitch in the giddy-up that might enter in.
And if other people weren’t involved this simple way of setting up a day would always win.
But alas, sometimes another person will shift the wind and the fine vision of a smooth sail will sink.
It doesn’t have to be an irritation, a devastation, or a break in a relationship.
It might be a good shift from one way to an even better way that is actually a win.
Still, I sometimes get difficult when the structure of my day caves in.
10 Steps to Save You and Your Team from Structure Damage
It’s a subtle effect, but I see it cause problems almost daily. One person sets up a situation that damages the structure of another person’s vision of how something was going to happen and that other person responds in a negative way. We call it drama, over-reaction, or being touchy, but really it’s a situation that can be avoid with just a little forward thinking.
This happens most often when we gather a new team. Everyone brings their old work ideas, interpersonal rules, and process structures to the new group and seldom do we all have the same clear vision of what we’re going to do. Here are some ways to manage expectations to save yourself (and others) from structure damage when planning your next meeting, event, or project:
- Define the meeting, event, or project goal / outcome clearly.. Know why you’re doing what you’re doing.
- Set meaningful priorities based on your values. Describe how you will recognize a great version of the meeting, event, or project.
- Enlist the right participants. Identify, enlist, and invite the people who share the same values and priorities.
- Determine roles and process that builds from the strengths of the participants. Explain the purpose and the value behind the activity. Take time to invite participants to suggest what their role should include more of and what it should include less of for optimal performance.
- Review the objectives, the process, and the necessary resources with the participants. Ask them to help determine the time and materials needed to achieve the best version of success. While you work out the process also work out the vocabulary — agreeing from the beginning on what we call things will avoid semantic miscommunications that could explode!
- Provide the resources and the time agreed upon to execute the meeting, event, or project.
- Decide on a standard way of alerting the group to things that aren’t working.
- Track and communicate progress.
- Discuss outcomes and compare them to the original goal definitions.
- Celebrate successes and change that exceeded expectations!
Planning a project, meeting, or event is a exercise in change. The act of forming a new team or adding a new event is an alteration of past events. Every person brings slightly different expectations to how and why we do things. Investing time to manage those expectations before we start can minimize the drama and the structure damage caused by those different visions of how the whole thing should work.
Depending on the size and scope of a meeting or project and the team gathering to make it happen, you may not need every step. But with an eye to the commonality of values, goals, vocabulary, process, and standards, you’ll know which need the most attention. Spend your time re-aligning places where people may have different expectations and the chances of structure damage will decrease exponentially despite a high rate of change.
The key to change is to manage expectations.
How do you minimize the stress of change when a new team gathers to work?
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz on your business!!