I was doing my laundry at the Laundromat the other day when I found myself thinking about everything going on in my world (good and not so good). I was starting to get a little overwhelmed when all of a sudden I found myself staring at my clothes, hypnotized by them spinning around in the front load washer. Who the hell knows how long I stood in front of the damn machine watching my clothes go round and round. Faster and faster they spun around. Weeeee, weeeee, weee, weee they went. Sort of like a roller coaster for lost socks. Weee, weee, weee, weee. Then all of a sudden they switched direction and I snapped out of my blissful spin cycle state. Wow, that was better than a head full of synaptic provocateurs. Damn.
My thoughts refocused on how to better manage the not so good. See I learned from my earlier experience this month.
I thought about one thing – expectations.
Expectations are so integral to every relationship we have or experience. How we set, communicate, deliver, manage and measure those expectations are critical. I like to call it the expectation cycle or EC.
Much like an exercise bicycle, the expectation cycle does no good if you don’t know how to use it. Unused, the EC will sit in the corner collecting dust as your relationships deteriorate.
I believe that every interaction we participate in today is grounded in the EC. In business it is paramount to customer satisfaction and business success. In personal interaction it is critical in relationship management whether it be at an individual or group level.
The components of the EC are pretty simple – or at least you’d think that.
Establish – this ones a no-brainer. If you don’t establish an expectation there is no expectation cycle to ride. No cycle to ride, no where to go….end of story.
Confirm – once an expectation has been established it is critical that you understand it’s components and ramifications. Make sure the expectation is realistic. Unrealistic expectations are so commonly the undoing of personal relationships. Don’t try to communicate an expectation that you don’t fully understand. Sort of like feeding Gremlins after midnight.
Communication – only after you fully understand the expectation and it’s components should you communicate the expectation to the desired recipient(s). This is the opportunity, along with acknowledgement to ensure the expectations you have for someone or some group are realistic and attainable.
Acknowledgement – this is critical. Once communicated you must get an acknowledgement back from the parties involved that they understand the expectation. Thereby you create a dynamic in which all parties understand the expectation.
Note: It is so very critical that folks understand your expectation. Too often I see breakdowns in personal relationships based on failed communication of expectations.
Performance – OK. You established the expectation, understood it, communicated it, got acknowledgement for it, now comes the easy part – meet or exceed the expectation. Funny part is that failure to meet the agreed upon expectation comes with an expectation too.
Management – expectation management ensures the long term success of the relationship with the expectation recipients. Often an expectation isn’t singular in nature. It may govern a business process or a relationship commitment. Either way, once established it is very important to manage the ongoing expectation process.
Measurement – results – you have to measure and track the success or not of your EC.
Take the Pizza Business – please. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha….
If you get a call to deliver a pizza and you tell the person that it will be there in 30 minutes, you’ve established an expectation with that person. If the pizza shows up in 45 minutes you have failed to meet the expectation that you established with the recipient of the pizza. Chances are they will be disappointed and look to another Pizza Shop when the next order a pizza.
Or maybe it’s the expectation within the realm of relationship. Do you know what is expected of you by your friends, collegues, siblings, children, business partners, lovers, etc? Are you sure you know? Do you think they know? Do they know what expectations you’ve set for them?
As you can imagine the EC develops into a web of commitments, performances and outcomes. What I’ve tried to document above is at the most simplistic level – the EC is far from simplistic. The EC is a multi-threaded tapestry that is woven by every action and interaction you have in your life. It will continue to grow everyday. Use that pozitoodinal energy to make your tapestry strong.
I am sure there will be some days that you may feel like you’re out of thread or you might even have a day when you break a thread. Shit, there might even be a few days when you jam the needle right into your thumb.
Have faith, communicate and most importantly let that pozitood shine through.
Good luck and remember – if you fall off it’s easy to get back on -just like riding a bicycle.