Set Expectations Like an Improviser

Are you in sales? Do you have a boss or have people working for you? Got people working with you? Do you work with people? 

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, there are people who expect things from you.

The question is, are their expectations consistent with the reality you are prepared to deliver? Will you meet their expectations, or will you disappoint?

Half the answer lies in what you deliver. The other half lies in what they expect.

THE INCOMPLETE SET

Last month, I placed an order with a marketing company. They told me, “Your marketing product will go live in no more than 30 days. Maybe sooner.”

That’s expectation setting. They gave me an expectation about timeline.

They also told me that I’d have a “success manager” assigned to me and my marketing efforts, and that I’d hear from that manager to get my input along the way.

They gave me specific time when I should expect completion, but no specifics about when I’d hear from the “success manager.” Because they left a gap in setting expectations for me, I filled the gap with my own expectations about what the interim timeline would look like. Because I set my own expectations about their service, they set us both up for confusion, disappointment, and anxiety.

Indeed, two weeks later, when I hadn’t heard from anyone, I touched base with the sales rep who brought me on board to ask how things were progressing. “The holidays have created a backlog. I’m sure you’re still on target. You’ll hear from someone soon.”

Cool. Reassuring. A little bit.

When I called again a week after that, I heard, “There’s a bit of a backlog because of the holidays, but I’m sure your release will happen on time.”

Less reassuring. Kind of vague.

When I heard from his colleague that same day, “I received your search landing page today, and you’ll see it for review in about an hour,” that truly reassured me.

Why?

THE COMFORT OF SPECIFICITY

Was it the tangible progress that reassured me? Because someone had seen actual work done on my project…?

Well, that was part of it.

A bigger part of it, however, is that the info they gave me was specific. It was not a general assurance like, “I’m sure you’re still on target.” Or, “You’ll hear from someone soon.”

I heard instead, “I’m currently looking at this specific aspect of our deliverables to you.” She said, “You’ll see it in one hour.”

It was nice that I’d see it so quickly. But, “tomorrow morning by 10AM,” would have been almost as good. It’s the level of specificity that gave me something to hold on to. My worries are gone. And I know when I should start worrying. I can directly compare the reality on the ground with the expectation they set for me.

IMPROV’S LESSON FOR SETTING EXPECTATIONS

What I’d like to impart to you is a bit of wisdom I learned by training as an improviser…

The more specific you are with others in your life — those who work with you, live with you, depend on you, employ you, work for you, buy from you, sell to you… whatever — the more specific you are with others, the more comfortable they will be.

And guess what, the less likely they are to irritate you as well. I think I got under my vendor’s skin a bit, by writing a few times to ask about the status of my order.

What would have saved me the worry that my order would be late? What would have saved my vendor the irritation of my, “Are we there yet?”

One thing would have saved us both the stress — practicing the improviser’s tool, “Be Specific.” Had they been specific, not only about the deadline for the finished product, but about the timeline of every deliverable along the way, I’d have rested comfortably and left them to do their work.

BE SPECIFIC

So, dear reader, the next time you find yourself in a situation where someone else is looking to you for answers about what to expect:

  • When will you…?
  • What will X look like?
  • How will costs be calculated?
  • What do you like about…?
  • What are the metrics for success?
  • Where can I find X?
  • How can I attain X results?

Be as specific as you possibly can.

Expectations are like bowling. When you’ve got a seven-ten split, you can’t expect to knock down both pins by simply rolling the ball down the alley “that way.” You’ve got to hit the seven pin just so, in order to send it spinning into the ten. That’s a specific task.

So is communication. You’ll be rewarded for your specificity.


I.T. That Adds Value with Gina Harris - MGW #7

GUEST: Gina Harris

Director of Information Technology at TalkingRain Beverage Company

https://www.linkedin.com/in/ginatharris?trk=miniprofile-photo

http://www.talkingrain.com/

 

IT is just taking orders, fixing passwords, coding and explaining complex technical issues to those who don’t speak tech, right?  Not if you are Gina Harris, from Talking Rain.  IT is about viewing and treating people as change agents that require a whole business point of view.

 

Gina speaks to the necessity of fostering business knowledge as an IT professional in sales, negotiation, optimization of supply chain, assessing people’s brilliance and automating work-flow, vendor relations, and risk management.

 

Her advice, “Understand the business.  Look at it from a 50,000 ft view. Look at how we make money.  How we produce the goods we sell.  Find out what that is all about.  And then work down from the 40,000 ft, to the 30,000 ft, the 20,000 ft and understand who the players are. Who the influencers are?What the potential is to differentiate us from our competition.  Really, it is ‘know the business,’ once you know the business, the IT part is a lot easier.”

 

She shares that having a Learning Organization is essential to her company’s overall success.

 

How do you ensure you have a Learning Organization?

 

  1.    Empower your team with information.  Paint the picture of the problem, brainstorm, research and collaborate the solution together.
  2.    Soft skills are more important than your tech skills.
  3.     Ability to embrace change.
  4.    Being open minded
  5.     Initiative
  6.    Empathy
  7.    Self Awareness
  8.      Willing to Collaborate
  9.    Thick Skinned- Don’t take rejection personally, find out what you could do better.
  10.    Team Building
  11.     Have each other’s back
  12.    Humor
  13.     No one says, “this is not my job”
  14.    Speak to strengths and weaknesses
  15.    Give credit and appreciate people’s skills
  16.    Compassion & Empathy translates into Good Work
  17.     When you treat people well, give them feedback and look them in the eye on a regular basis, they will rally behind the leadership if they feel supported.

 

Thank you, Gina, for your transparent and informed advice on how to generate mighty good work as an IT pro and company wide.

 

Visit Mighty Good Work and The Yes Works at: www.TheYesWorks.com

 

Found out more great info from Gina in this article: http://food.cioreview.com/cxoinsight/the-business-value-of-it–nid-14037-cid-29.html

 

Theme music by: Miguel Juarez

 

Midshow break music by : Allan Loucks www.TinEar.com
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Your Happiness, Your Job with Dana Manciagli - MGW #4

GUEST: Dana Manciagli — Global Career Expert: Speaker and Private Coach

www.DanaManciagli.com

https://www.linkedin.com/in/danamanciagli

 

Over decades, Dana Manciagli amassed skills and insights into good work and career wisdom while working at such companies as Avery, SeaLand, Kodak and Microsoft. Now, she gives others the benefit of that wisdom as  an author, blogger, keynote speaker, career coach, and global career expert.

Earlier episodes of this podcast have focused on leadership’s role in great work in our companies. Dana Manciagli is here to talk with your host Aaron Schmookler about what each of us can do to insure that we’ve got Mighty Good Work.Reboot yourself by changing jobs, by jumping division to division, location to location, or company to company.

 

Here are a few highlights from our conversation with Dana:

 

Make choices! Don’t let your work happen to you. Be deliberate.

 

Figure out what you like, and pursue only what you like.


You can’t be all things to all people. Make choices. Sometimes they’re tough. You don’t have to get it absolutely right. Make a call and take action on it.

 

“What are you waiting for? You have a vision. You know what you want to do next. Why aren’t you doing it?”

 

Don’t rely on your boss to make you happy.

 

Ask yourself, “What was this week like? Did I do my best? Treat my people well? Make good choices?” Take regular accounting of your own performance against your own standards of excellence. Expect greatness.

 

There’s a lot of boss bashing out there. Stop bashing the boss. It only hurts your career.

 

Business revolves around relationships.

 

Rule #1: Build the relationship with your boss. There’s a “we factor” and you’re role in the relationship is equally important. It takes two.

 

YOU have tremendous power in yourself — through your choices — to have good work wherever you are.

 

Put in the work that it takes to enjoy work! Don’t be stuck.Take action to get to joy at work!

 

If you need a private job search coach, contact Dana through her website or through LInkedIn.

 

http://DanaManciagli.com

https://www.linkedin.com/in/danamanciagli
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