Clarifying Expectations

How many times do you have conversations when you think everyone is in agreement, only to find out later that people interpreted the discussion differently?

Alas, this happens all the time. It can happen in a conversation between two people, let alone in conversations with a larger group. It’s a good idea to identify where possible misperceptions occur so that you can clarify any confusion ahead of time.

Clarification is usually needed when some gray area exists. The challenge is that you might think something is black and white when the other person is thinking gray.

For example, you may tell someone that a project is due on Thursday. You may expect the completed work by Thursday morning, when the employee thinks that the deadline is close of business on Thursday (or even worse, Thursday evening).

You may ruminate that you don’t need to be specific because your staff should know by now that you always expect completed projects in the morning.

Never assume. Be as precise as possible, because you don’t want to suffer the fallout that could have been avoided by one small modification.

This issue becomes compounded during hectic periods. Yes, employees should know how to do their jobs, but they can get caught up in the overload wave and miscalculate how long it takes to do a particular assignment.

This is where management is important. No one wants to micromanage, but if you’re depending on others to meet a deadline, you need to be “on it” so that there are no last minute surprises.

Admittedly, it can be frustrating to feel like you’re always giving instructions, following up, and making sure your team is on top of the work. That’s one of the “joys” of managing. Don’t waste good energy resenting that you need to do this; just take a deep breath and do it.

Have a great week!

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