Hope Is Not a Strategy
Recently I have been in a number of conversations with people – women – whose good nature and propensity for giving have been prevailed upon by their current or former employers. They had been asked to do something extra, go an extra few miles. In one case, an extra 3000 miles. The challenge here is that these highly trained professional women were asked and agreed without defining their terms, defining their expectations from their respective employers.
When you don’t define your expectations, you set yourself up to be disappointed. You are in effect giving something for nothing or perhaps more accurately; getting nothing for something. Let’s be clear, giving in and of itself is not a bad thing. Nor should giving be conditional – most of the time. That’s what family and friends are for. However, there are times that asking “what’s in it for me” is more than appropriate.
In the workplace, if you are not clear what’s in it for you besides a paycheck, what are you striving towards? If the paycheck is all that matters, fine. But if you have a career path in mind, sometimes you have to put you first. The truth of the matter is, no one else will define your expectations nor is it their responsibility.
In two of the instances, there was an expectation that the corporate leadership would remember their generosity down the line and they would be rewarded. Nice thought, but most companies are not nearly that thoughtful. There is also the sense among some professionals that given the employment picture, one can’t afford to define their expectations. Not true.
You can define your expectations when you know the value you contribute to your organization. You should be clear and intentional about how you demonstrate your value. This is not a call to be arrogant. It’s a call to be definitive, confident and assertive.
Not sure what value you do offer? Performance reviews are the best place to start. Haven’t had one in a while? Request one. Do a self evaluation and see how close you come to how your management evaluates you. If you’re really courageous, ask a peer or two whom you work closely with to provide you with honest feedback. Provide them with the same questions that your management would use to evaluate you. Some organizations use a 360 evaluation approach. They are most useful because they provide you with how you are perceived by all the teams you interact with. This will help you assess what value you contribute as well as identify areas that you can strengthen.
Based on your vision for yourself, you will be better able to articulate your expectations. Expectations are not one way; they are reciprocal, however they must be defined and expressed by all stakeholders. When you do not make your expectations known then you are just hoping for the best. Hope, although motivating, it is not a strategy. Action is required. As the New Year approaches, take some time over the next week to think about your expectations relative to the goals you have set for yourself. Here are three simple steps that may be useful:
- Write out your expectations
- Consider how to frame your expectations to key stakeholders
- Develop your strategy for delivering on every key aspect of your responsibility with excellence
- Work with your coach to increase your chances of a successful outcome
In the meantime, believe and live forward,
YOU 3.0 Questions of the Week: What expectations do you have that have not been expressed? What is your expectation of how and when will they be met?