I was having a conversation with my friend Barry (an astute observer of social and interpersonal relationships) last Saturday night about the perils of misaligned expectations. We were reminiscing about the time that he and my husband Rick had gone ocean kayaking and come back much (much, much) later than Barry’s wife had expected.
He recounted the tale of the two of them making their way to shore after four (four!) hours of playing in surf and, as they approached the beach, seeing the dark and stormy clouds on the horizon. It wasn’t weather. It was Amy. His wife. And she was – understandably – madder (and more worried) than a wet hen. Did I mention it was during a hurricane and there were 15 foot swells?
Long story short: she expected a “couple” of hours and the guys interpreted that as…well…they probably didn’t really interpret it as anything.
I chuckled knowingly (having been there, done that, gotten the t-shirt) and said sagely: “It’s all about managing expections”.
“No!”, Barry said. “That’s the problem. It’s about managing expectaTION. Singular. There shouldn’t be more than one expectation. That’s when the trouble starts.”
The better we are as individuals, teams and organizations at coming to agreement on a shared definition of success, the more likely we are to succeed.