Advice is always easier to give than to follow - and I'm unfortunately prone to not following my own advice.
I've said that exact saying to at least two friends this week yet I realized that I haven't been following my own words in certain aspects of my life. Though we usually don't do substandard work at SoJo (we all make mistakes but it hardly can be called substandard effort), there are times where I don't hold other people up to certain expectations.
Expectations are usually considered a bad thing, but I personally don't view them badly in certain contexts in the professional world. To clarify:
- When you can't have expectations: there are things that are beyond your control - certain outcomes that no matter what you do, you really can't do much about it in the end. This is where expectations are unhelpful because in the end, it's not up to you to decide. Example: you didn't get a promotion even though they promoted someone else in the organization who may not have worked there as long as you have. Though it is fair to feel that this decision was unfair, you may also have to consider what management's reason was for the decision.
- When you can have expectations: however, you can still have certain expectations over how you interact with someone to a certain degree, which is a part of process. I would include expectations around conduct like (but not limited to) respect and politeness -- because they maintain someone's dignity. Example: following the situation above, you then ask your boss if you can talk about why you didn't get the job. She tells you why they chose the other candidate, even if nothing was particularly "wrong" with your application or interview. Though you couldn't control why they chose Candidate B instead of you, you can still have a level of expectation about how your boss addresses your concerns because it's part of being in a professional work environment.
My (sometimes unhelpful) approach as of the last few years is to have fewer expectations. I personally tend to be the type to do it all for myself, and often don't ask for help even when I should. Not having as many expectations of others has allowed me to maintain control to some degree (if I don't have expectations, I won't be disappointed, right?) but it also may be too relaxed of an approach when working with others -- almost letting the substandard take place.
Over the last few months, I've had to be a firmer manager and representative of SoJo when working with team members and partners (current and potential). How then do I temper what expectations I should have, and what should I not expect?
For one, I'm taking back the idea of no expectations: I'd like to have one expectation, which is to not get substandard - whether it's substandard treatment or substandard work. To be fair, there is a difference between substandard work and not-as-great-as-it-could be. Substandard work is a reflection of how one views you - because they felt you didn't deserve their best work.
And you always deserve someone's best, no matter what. :)