Meeting (& Exceeding) Expectations Drives Results

accountability clear expectations confusion employee engagement exceeding expectations high expectation high performers leadership culture meeting expectations not meeting expectations at work performance poor communications profit profitability profitability killers return on investment Jun 27, 2023
Exceed Expectations

The cost of confusion hits our bottom line(s) in so many ways; increased downtime clarifying details, quality errors (regardless of our industry or process), delayed deliveries, and even lost customers. All of those things kill profitability! When we think about the statement I shared previously from Nicki Rankin’s LinkedIn article, “Managers are tasked with productivity and numbers for their department or division,” it’s not hard to understand why folks get so frustrated when their team members under-perform… What’s often missed is just how common poor performance really is.

In August 2015, I had the opportunity to be with a small group of folks in a private session with John Maxwell at the beginning of an event that would complete the first stage of the licensing process to use some of his material. While this “small” group consisted of between three and four hundred people, it was just over 10% of the folks who would be participating in the entire event over the next few days and far smaller than any live venue I had heard John speak in prior to that. One of the things he stressed in the session, since each of us would be completing the process to use his material and name in the days that followed, was how hard he had worked throughout his career to build and maintain a strong reputation. He also shared how much he struggled with the idea of licensing people he didn’t know personally to represent that reputation.

Before throwing any stones in John’s direction for coming across as having too much ego or pride in the reputation he worked so hard to earn, I’ll challenge you to consider what it feels like when one of your team members (or children) does something that shines a negative light on your organization (or family). It can hurt, right? Especially when that something is so contrary to the values we hold most dear…

The thing that stood out to me the most during that three-hour session, and still rings so true today, was what John asked of each individual in the room. His request was that if we were going to use his name, we would commit to always exceed the expectations of every individual or organization we worked with. He went on to share a statistic that both drove home the importance of doing that AND emphasized how infrequently anyone ever does it. John said, “80% of the population falls short of what’s expected of them on a routine basis. Around 15% does the work necessary to deliver just what’s expected of them and they stop right there. Only 5% ever take the initiative to exceed the expectations placed on them.” After explaining that, he went on to challenge us to consistently be in that 5% and he shared several steps he had taken throughout his career to make sure he was doing that himself.

Today, one of the things Cindy and I do every time we meet with a potential client to discuss work we may be doing for them, we go through a series of very detailed questions to be sure we know exactly what they need, how we can best support their needs, and how we help their team members achieve results that deliver significant returns on what the invest through their time with us. We learn as much as we possibly can about the organization as a whole and about each individual we’ll be interacting with through the process. By doing this, we’re able to tailor everything we do to their industry and the issues they’re dealing with at that time. Quite frankly, it would be irresponsible on our part if we didn’t do that!

When we accept the responsibility for leading others, even if that’s only tied to a title or position within the organization we work for, we’ll be required to go beyond what the majority will even do - and that ties right back to the numbers John shared… As leaders, we also need to understand that many of the members of our teams may never take the steps necessary to remove the confusion that will keep them from meeting (or exceeding) what’s expected of them. That will nearly always be up to us and that’s where we’ll pick up next time.