Nectar Of Wisdom

X – Exceed EXpectations

“Positive expectations are the mark of a superior personality.”

Opening Story:

The Story of Two Emoployees

Nimish worked for a large infrastructure company. He had been working with the company for the past 6 years as a loyal employee. He was known for carrying out orders obediently and to the T. He had a good reputation in the organization. Manav was a relatively new employee who had joined a year back. Though reasonably junior to Nimish, Manav had become the apple of the management’s eye. Nimish was resentful and failed to understand why Manav was so popular with the management. His resent grew day-in day-out till one day he couldn’t resist and stormed into the Chair person’s cabin. He asked why everybody is going gaga about Manav although he is so new to the organization.

Even before the Boss could reply there was a heated discussion heard outside the cabin. The chairperson asked Nimish to enquire who was screaming outside. Nimish immediately went out, asked and came back with the reply, ”He is a Sales Team Manager”. Again, the chairperson asked, “What is the matter? Why is he screaming?” Nimish went out again to check, came in and answered, “There is a mistake in his salary credited”. The chairperson asked again, “So who is dealing with the matter?”  Nimish now reluctantly answered,” I don’t know. I’ll enquire and comeback.” Next moment there was a knock on the door. It was Manav. The Chairperson asked Nimish not to go again. He simply said to Manav, “Well Manav, I heard somebody screaming outside a few minutes back. Can you just enquire what the matter is?” Manav immediately left from the cabin. The chairperson winked at Nimish, “Lets see how he fairs”. Manav came back after a couple of minutes “It’s Ramesh, the Sales Team Manager. The HR department made a mistake in crediting his salary and that was the reason why he was furious. But Ms.Mary, the HR head is looking into the matter. She has already apologized and is correcting the folly. Ramesh seems to be okay now.”

Nimish behaved like a reactive subordinate. Very obedient, doing what the boss told him to, leaving all the thinking to the master. Manav behaved like a proactive employee, anticipating all his Boss’s moves and preparing for it. That ability to anticipate & exceed expectation made Manav more efficient and effective and hence more valuable in the eyes of Chairperson.

How people relate to us and judge us often comes down to one concept: are we able to meet the expectations they have?

Our customers or bosses determine what work they’ll trust us with based on how well we meet their expectations. Even friends decide if they want to invest in a relationship with us based on expectations and fulfillment. For example, if you meet someone for the first time and arrive 30 minutes late without notice, the person you meet is unlikely to want to grow the relationship. Alternatively, if you promise a customer that you’ll finish in three weeks but finish on budget within a week, they are likely to return. Whether it’s a friend or a colleague, everyone around us creates opinions of us based on whether we are as reliable or interesting as they expected us to be.

It might sound simple but meeting expectations on time, every time, has become one of the most difficult skills to master. That’s because we have dozens of expectations — and often, we don’t even know what they are.

Have you ever wondered how to earn favors for the next promotion or to build the most inspiring circle of friends? Here’s how to master expectations:

To master expectations, understand them

Expectations can be defined as ‘a collection of beliefs about what the future holds. They come in three forms:

  1. Relationships:Someone expects something of you as friend, a neighbor, or a relative. For example, if you are taking care of a friend’s dog, you are expected to feed the dog.
  2. Business:A customer or boss expects you to accomplish something by a specific time, or at a specific level of quality. For example, you must meet a sales quota by the end of the quarter to satisfy your boss’s expectations.
  3. Your own mind:You expect something of yourself by a specific time. For example, you expect yourself to be financially independent by age 30.

Expectations also come in various levels of formality. At the lowest level, there are expectations built into any relationship. Society defines what it means to be a friend, a sibling, or a lover, and to reject these norms often means fighting an uphill battle.

At the next level, there are informal (often verbal) commitments that you make to friends and colleagues. At the highest level, there are formal expectations put in writing with customers and creditors.

Most people understand these levels, but often do not place enough effort into meeting expectations with less formality. At times, it is more important to be a good sibling or help a sick relative instead of meeting a customer’s demands.

To get better at understanding expectations, we must catalog our expectations regularly. Many people catalog their expectations in lists, but miss critical items. Here are three ways to capture expectations completely:

  1. Catalog throughout the day:Carry paper with you and write down everything that is expected of you as you pass through the day. Making a habit of writing down expectations in context will make you less likely to miss something.
  2. Mindmap using a whiteboard:Adding a structure or a pattern to the way you produce ideas can significantly improve thinking. A whiteboard is an effective visual tool for drawing expectations. Start with a circle in the center of the board and branch out with ideas that are central in your life. For example, start with a center circle that says me and branch out with family, startup life, investments, health and learning. Then, in each branching idea, you can start to write specific expectations in that context.
  3. Contact people who have expectations:Inherent in every expectation is a person who is expecting something to happen. Make a list of the most important people in your life and call them regularly to discuss expectations.

Five ways to meet & exceed expectations every time

Once cataloged, meeting expectations is a process that can be improved. Here are five ways to improve:

  1. Understand each expectation:The first step to meeting an expectation is understanding that expectation. Communicate with the person who has the expectation until you have a level of clarity and can write it down. Having a written expectation will enable you to focus your efforts and outsource some of the work.
  2. Organize time:The most common reason for missing expectations is lack of time. The best way to maximize time is organizing it. Time can be organized linearly and in blocks. First, organize linearly, using the start and end dates to create a timeline of what needs to get done. Second, block out specific sections of the day to accomplish specific tasks. Treat the blocks as scheduled meetings and don’t allow interruptions.
  3. Do the unexpected.  Little things.  Tiny things really.  It’s those small things that add up to the largest equation in any relationship.  Find one additional thing a day you can do to bring a smile to your loved one’s face.  Remember, this isn’t something big…it’s something really small, yet thoughtful.
  4. Don’t expect anything in return. The greatest key to exceeding expectations is whenever you do something -no matter how big or small- do not expect anything in return.  I know that can be hard to do but it’s paramount.  Don’t keep score of all the wonderful things you do because that will eventually lead to comparisons.  And you and I both know comparisons are dangerous in every area of life, especially, relationships.  The goal here is to give with your whole heart without expectation of reciprocation.  The interesting thing is when you give with your entire being, expecting nothing in return, what you give always comes back to you ten-fold.  It’s one of those beautiful mysteries of life that continues to be proven true.
  5. Don’t make assumptions.  As best-selling author Miguel Angel Ruiz so wonderfully put it, “Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want.  Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama.  With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.  One of the greatest skills in marriage is to assume less and learn more.  Nothing pushes us to grow quite like marriage.  When you look at it as an endless opportunity to learn about the person you love most, yourself, and the world around you.  Assume as little as possible…discover as much as possible.
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