This article explains about factors that lead to exceeding expectation in your activities (either personal or professional). This puts your life in a traffic free express way! After understanding the ‘secret codes’ for exceeding expectation & once you started implementing them then no one can stop your growth by any means!
Whatever be your level in your organization, every time when you hear the word “Exceed expectations” from your manager, do you think it is a kind of cloud catching exercise for you? This feeling will be there when you have confusion on what really needs to be done to exceed expectation.
Just by hearing the term “Exceeding Expectations”, you get the general meaning that “over and above what is expected”. Don’t go beyond this simplest & straight forward meaning. If you start thinking too much about the term, you end up in doing ‘tread mill’ i.e. running in the same place & not going anywhere.
First and foremost step for anyone to exceed the expectation is to know what is expected. Expectations changes from time to time based on performed activities & experience. Expectation level can go down or go up from time to time.
Expected behavior is the grey area which is revealed only during performance review session. This makes the entire process of achieving exceed expectation harder.
When a manager sets expectations it is based on team member’s experience, skill and knowledge in overall work or in a particular task.
When manager decides goals, he documents and communicates only the expected outcome. The expected behavior is not explicitly discussed with team member. During performance review discussions, tug of war happens over the expected behavior as it is mostly subjective in nature.
Manager & team member need to analyze alignment of expectations with the high-level project goals.
Note: Though references in the below text talks about interactions between a team member and a manager, the term ‘expectation’ is applicable to all & not specific to one particular activity, hence you can apply these ideas to any activity. Also, degree of individuals’ skill varies from one person to another & this text doesn’t talk about how they can improve these skills as it is in an individual’s hand.
Three main factors that decides ‘exceeding expectations’ for an employee (either it is a team member or manager) are – Proactive, Effective, Creating visibility. All three are interlinked as one helps the other and they share certain common elements.
Being proactive is the basic behavior expected on every assigned activity. In many ways you can exhibit this factor –
a) From childhood, we are trained in such a way that we simply wait for instructions. This is real enemy for exceeding expectation. Even you know how to do, if you wait for your manager to tell then it will not bring you up above the expectation level. You need to start performing activities without prompting or at least you can inform your manager that you are doing it.
b) You need to start assuming responsibility in the absence of someone (either manager or peer)
c) As Einstein said “one cannot solve the problems at the same level at which it was created”. You always need to understand the big picture which helps in identifying issues before hand.
d) You need to avoid mistakes either by following existing standards/processes set in the project or by creating your own standards/processes. This gives an excellent way to project you as a disciplined person.
e) Whenever you encounter with a problem, you should not stop at that point and stare at your manager with blank face. You need to move from problem oriented mindset to solution oriented mindset, in that way you can identify & provide possible solutions or workarounds for the situation.
Effectiveness is another important factor that makes you to exceed the set expectations. You can bring effectiveness mainly through practice & disciplined approaches. Here are few areas where effectiveness gives more weightage to expectations
a) In different decision-making scenarios – it can be a decision-making for general solution approach or a strategic decision-making or in an ambiguous/pressure situation. Usually work will be smooth and we encounter ambiguous or pressure situations once in a while, but behaviors shown in those situations has long-lasting effect in the organization history.
b) Effectiveness in activity management has greater value in deciding where you stand in the expectation scale. Following a procedural way in estimating time required, balancing personal & professional life, planning and organizing activities will bring you up in the scale.
c) Communication is integral part of whole expectation cycle from setting it till fulfillment. Effective communication happens when you understand things to be done in one (or few) round of explanation.
d) Others will look at you if you start implementing action items (sometimes it is corrective actions too) as many lacks the skill of following up the action items. In this way you can make yourself stand out in the crowd.
e) Self awareness – Though I mentioned it as last point, but this is having equal credit in securing high score in expectation levels. The one who understood his strengths and weaknesses can perform activities effectively. You help others in your strong areas & get help from others in the weak areas. In this way, you will complete the job within given timelines.
Creating visibility is the third factor for exceeding expectation.
a) Visibility creation is in your hands & it is not in the size of activity that you are performing. You can make everyone look at you the way you do it.
b) You can gain confidence of your higher officials by showcasing goodness in the work you performed & by the way you can also grab new opportunities with that.
c) Again, effective communication decides the level of visibility that you are creating. You need to use every given opportunity as visibility creation test & use your full potential in doing that.
d) Whenever you are included in a discussion or in performing an activity, everyone around you needs to feel value addition you make to that discussion/activity.
e) Having a relationship is not just enough; you need to have a positive relationship that enables you to influence people positively. With positive relationship, your acceptance will be widespread & people will help you without ego or grudge.