Often I hear managers and other professionals complain about their staff. And the problem comes from their reliance on expectations. Take the example of Ron, a branch manager.
“I gave my people a simple telephoning assignment on Monday along with a checklist. When I asked them about it on Friday, only one of them had done the work and none of them had turned in the checklist,” Ron told me. “When I tell them what to do, I expect that they’ll do it. Is that too much to ask?”
“No, of course not. But what was the agreement?” I asked him. Ron hesitated, confused.
“There wasn’t any agreement,” he replied, indignant. “Most of them have been with me for years. They know what I expect of them.”
I questioned this. I explained to Ron that management by expectation has a lot of holes in it. The details may not be clear, even when you’re certain they are. It leaves the door open to excuses about why the job couldn’t be done. And, most important, no one has actually agreed to do it. By contrast, management by agreement turns a vague, one-sided expectation into specific promises. In Ron’s case, he might say.