Great Expectations

Posted on December 13, 2022

Mind reader

Today’s Morning Buzz is by Jackie Wehmeyer, Senior Director of Strategy and Intergovernmental Affairs for the City of Parkland, Florida. Parkland was named one of the Best Places to Work in Local Government in 2021 by ELGL and a Top Workplace in 2022.

Connect with Jackie on LinkedIn.

What I’m Reading: Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing by Matthew Perry
What I’m Watching: Still slowly savoring season 6 of Better Call Saul because I don’t want it to end
What I’m Listening To: About 30 different Holiday Music channels on SiriusXM

I recently read an article in Texas CEO magazine regarding “feedforward.”  Instead of correcting an employee after something goes wrong, “feedforward” is when you provide the employee with suggestions for the future rather than simply telling him what he did wrong (feedback). This reframe of a conversation may provide an employee with a better sense of confidence (I know you will do better) rather than feeling they’ve received a parent/child type of correction.  Feedforward provides psychological safety and creates bonding.  No one likes giving or getting criticism, so it spoke volumes to me.

It made me think even further about how as employees, it is frustrating to be corrected when we thought for sure we knew what our leader wanted.  And how as leaders, we are confused by one of our employees not providing an outcome that we feel should have been simple to create.  On most occasions, I believe it is because there is a void of clear expectation that the leader assumes is present.  Too often, and especially when a new team member joins us, we leaders simply assume the employee knows what our expectations are.  We may feel it is condescending to explain the expectations, and our employee may feel he looks stupid to ask for the clarification.

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Set expectations for employees and actually voice them.  It may seem elementary but enumerating what you need may actually be a relief for an employee to hear.
  2. Don’t expect what you don’t clearly communicate.  Never assume your employees are mind readers.  They may be able to anticipate your wants and needs, but don’t expect that they will get it 100% right 100% of the time if you haven’t explained.  Make your expectations action items.
  3. Get new employees started with an expectations conversation.  Don’t just review a list of job duties. Explain what you are looking for in all areas and why you have those expectations.
  4. Prove to your employees that there are no stupid questions to ask.  Make your work environment a safe space to ask for clarity and assistance.  Remind your employees to let you know about roadblocks early on so you can clear them.
  5. Provide feedforward instead of feedback. Employees can’t change the past, but it is easier for them to make better future decisions when they feel supported.
  6. Ask your employees what they expect of you. You may be surprised what you hear, but genuinely wanting to know is important, and sets the stage for honest communications in the future.

Clearly setting expectations can not only give you peace of mind, but will help set your employees up for growth, learning, and success.  No mind reading needed for that.

Image result for seinfeld meme expectation


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