Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Managing People, Managing Expectations

Five new people joined our office today. The hardest part of running a business is not actually the business itself, managing clients or looking for a continuous stream of revenue – the hardest part is actually managing people.

And contrary to what you read in books by business ‘gurus’, no, you don’t just hire someone and your stress miraculously decreases and work is halved. This happens only in dreams and wish lists. The reality of it is there is no such thing as a perfect employee who can handle exactly what you need to handle.

You need to train the person to see your vision and it takes time. There will be an inevitable struggle of alignment and expectations on both sides, and this is the most crucial part – do they last this initial obstacle? There will be many losses in this phase but then you have to patiently mine through a lot to get the diamonds.  The ones who stay through the pressure will learn to adapt to expectations, and evolve into better team players and even add value to the organisation. And if you are very lucky, the universe will send you the rare few individuals who will even transform your organisation to be a better place than the one you envisioned.

Expectations are always the demons that break relationships. It’s not wrong to have them though, but we need to be aware that we need to communicate that expectation very clearly and consistently to those that we have expectations on.

Though expectations are very important in a work environment, they may not work well in a relationship however.

You cannot expect someone to change their life and who they are for you. That is a sure recipe for an unhappy relationship and a build-up of resentment. You just need to love them for who they are and how they make you feel and not try to control them. For a relationship to work, you need to have total trust, integrity, and faith in the other person, and if you cannot have that, there is no point even being in that relationship. You are better off being on your one, creating new adventures and excitement for yourself than being miserable wondering why a person is this way or that way, or why they are not making you happy. It is never the other person’s job to make you happy – it is your job to make you happy , and you do that by completing yourself with you, not them.

No one in this world can complete you but you. This, however, is the mistake too many people make in life – thinking they need to find someone else who will complete their life, make them happy, care for them, and the long list of expectations goes on and on. They look for this in their spouses, their children, their government, their teachers, their friends, their social media, their pets…. These are not solutions to your void. And that is why most people are unhappy. Diane von Furstenberg once famously said, “Relationships should a plus, not a must”

However, in a working environment, expectations are absolutely necessary. This is because your entire team is working towards a common objective – we are not loving each other for who we are, unlike a personal relationship.

And when an entire team of a group of people anywhere between 5 to 5000 to 50,000 are working towards a common objective – the profitable growth of the company, if you don’t set out expectations by the company on their respective roles, the general objective and how to achieve them, the company will crumble under the chaos of too many things lost in translation.

Expectations take the form of clear guidelines on work outcomes, mannerisms & interactions, professionalism, timelines, and whatever else will be needed to have all employees working in tandem to achieve the objectives of an organisation.

Expectations then become a blueprint of how an entire group of people can work together to achieve success collectively.

And finally we come to the most important part – managing our own expectations of ourselves.

Very often we are hardest on ourselves and have too high an expectation of what we should be and have or haven’t achieved. And these unreal expectations very often put us on a time travel mode where we either live in the past, trying to live up to what our parents, teachers or some authority expected of us, or we live in the future worrying about what if we don’t achieve the expectations.

The solution is simple – dream big, but allow for mistakes and failures because they will teach you the most. And do the same for expectations in both workplace and in your personal relationship.

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