10 Workplace ‘Expectations’ That Do More Harm Than Good

Tags: Leadership, Leadership Worth Sharing Blog, Organizational Culture, Organizational Leadership, Situational Leadership

Ok, it’s Sunday night or even Monday morning in the shower. You’re mentally going through your upcoming work week ticking off what needs to get done. Like most of us, you probably have some expectations as to how the week will go . . . the keyword being ‘expectations.’

Here’s the deal. I have discovered over the years that human nature creates a reasonable set of expectations when it comes to the workplace. But these expectations can be DANGEROUS!!!

In fact, they’re very dangerous when we expect things to work a certain way and they don’t. They create disappointment in ourselves and others, sometimes even hurting working relationships.

Here are the top 10 Expectations to You Can Do Without!

  1. Expecting ‘Normal’ and ‘Predictable’

There is no such thing as normal and predictable when it comes to a typical work week. In fact, you’d be safer treating your work week like you do the weather. It will be unpredictable and things will come out of nowhere when you least expect it and blindside you. And when you are blindsided, it could ‘ruffle your day’ so much you might end up ‘kicking someone else’s cat!’ Don’t kick someone else’s cat! Just expect the unexpected.

Here’s a wonderful mantra that will be a great way to start off each and every day

Be surprised at nothing. Expect anything. And you will be prepared for everything! 

  1. Expecting that Everyone will Deliver on Their ‘Promises’ to you

Life happens. Work happens. It’s not that the commitments aren’t important. It’s not that you aren’t important. It’s that ‘life and work happens.’ Give people the benefit of the doubt. Like you, others also have the unforeseen come their way (see #1) that they must address, as well. Simply mark your calendar to follow up and respectively persist.

  1. Expecting Everyone to be ‘OK’ with your Changes

Even the greatest sales person on earth couldn’t get everyone to ‘convert.’ It is literally impossible to make everyone happy all of the time. Instead, focus on doing what’s right, over communicating and supporting whenever and wherever necessary.

  1. Expecting to Get All of Your Work Done From Your ‘Weekly To Do List!’

Remember point number one? Let’s face it, it would be wonderful if we all could enter the work week working in a vacuum, where there are no distractions and no interruptions. That’s just not realistic. You will be interrupted and things will come up that need to be addressed. They always do. Instead, focus on the BIG thing you’d like to get accomplished for the week and ‘nibble’ in the other areas. But be persistent. Most of all though, don’t be so hard on yourself if you don’t get everything done.

  1. Expecting Everyone to Have All of the Answers You Need

There will be times during the week where you need answers but have nowhere or no one to turn to. During these times, focus on your ‘knowns’ and go into ‘risk management’ mode. Take your items as far as you can take them without requiring the answer and be proactive. If you can’t move at all due to the risk, then be busy on something else. No matter what, be productive. It’s a much better place to be than sitting around twiddling your thumbs.

  1. Expecting People to Have Time for You During the Week

Wow! This sounds almost too harsh. Again, re-read point number one! People really do have good intentions but there are times when unforeseeable events happen that cause people to dive into the ‘weeds’ to the point they disappear. Give them the benefit of the doubt and circle back around the following week. Or give them a soft ‘ping’ if it’s urgent. You are important but so are a whole slew of other people and other items that need completed.

  1. Expecting Everything to Work Out as You Expect

There are just so many variables outside of just the work that can cause things to pivot or change on a dime. People are moved. Priorities change. The environment changes. Organizational dynamics change. One slight move to any ‘pre-existing’ condition and the ‘whole ball of wax’ changes. About the only constant that is a company’s brand name . . . the rest if fair game to change.

  1. Expecting Upper Management to Know ‘Exactly’ How You Feel

Ouch! Again another harsh one. To be clear, upper management absolutely cares for its people. But because their first call to order is to protect and be stewards for the ‘thrivability’ and growth of your company, it could often appear they don’t care about employee impact around company-wide decisions. Take it from me, it’s the farthest thing from the truth. Remove the title and just like you, they have families. Just like you, they bleed. Just like you, they have a heart. Give upper management the benefit of the doubt and help communicate legitimate concerns around company decisions if they do occur however.

  1. Expecting to Love Every Minute of Your Work!

I don’t believe people intentionally move into a job that they hate or dislike. On the flipside, I don’t believe even the people who do exactly what they want to do for a living are happy 100% of the time either! The ‘grass is not greener on the other side.’ The point here is there is no perfect job. Yes, it’s called ‘work’ for a reason that means it’s not always going to be a ‘joy ride.’ At the very least however, strive to create more enjoyment in whatever you do.

  1. Expecting You will Feel Good About Every Decision You Make

Self-doubt is about as natural as the air we breathe! I know not one day goes by where I don’t question at least one of the decisions I have made. Sometimes, I even lose a whole night’s sleep because of it! The reality is there will always be unknowns around our decisions and sometimes we just have to be ‘ok’ with them. You’re ‘still standing’ right? Move on and realize there’s always tomorrow to make it right if you happen to blunder today. Perfection should never be your goal. Being better than you were yesterday is!

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