Have you ever had one of those days when you just couldn’t seem to get anything done, despite your best intentions? Unless you’re a superhuman with impeccable initiative and an inability to be distracted by cute cate videos, you probably know what we’re talking about. Whether its the myriad of work piling up on your desk, a host of small problems that seem to pull you away from larger tasks, or simply a lack of a good nights sleep that leaves you unable to focus, we’ve all had moments in the workplace where we feel less than satisfied with our accomplishments.
Sure, we can sit and beat ourselves up for not punching out that report fast enough or for not getting that extra invoice sent out for the day, but repeated studies show that criticizing ourselves, and others, for perceived failures can often be counterproductive. Don’t get us wrong, from time to time there will be a bad apple in the workforce who turns out to be lazy or uncoachable, but the majority of us simply need a little help in prioritization. This is why true leaders should resolve to manage expectations, both of themselves, and others, in order to improve performance rather than simply asking for more or harder work. Sound impossible? Let’s dig into a few simple ways to make big changes with this approach.
Evaluate the Current Situation
Whether it’s a single project or an entire system or way of conducting business before goals can be set or deadlines established leaders need to evaluate the current state of affairs. What are your main pain points or problem areas in your industry and specific place of business? What are short, medium, and long term projects that need to be accomplished? Finally, what are your current staffing capabilities both in number and talent? Evaluating each of these with a critical eye is a crucial first step to undertake before you can move on to planning and implementation.
Establish Realistic Goals
Whether it’s yourself or your employees, if you are unclear on what can realistically be accomplished in a given timeframe, it will be nearly impossible to set clear, realistic timelines. Can you really roll out that systemwide software upgrade in three months? Perhaps there’s a project that other companies could accomplish in a few weeks but with your current staffing levels, it will take a team more than double the time. In short, be honest with your assessment of the situation and don’t be afraid to ask for extra resources, additional time, or to push back altogether if a goal just isn’t doable. Not only will this save you face with management and your team, but you’ll also be less likely to discourage your own efforts due to feelings of failure or hopelessness from trying to meet an unrealistic endgame.
Expectations of Self
When it comes to managing expectations, leadership starts at the top. Be an example to your team by identifying, establishing, and then following u