I remember the summer between my 5th and 6th grade years well; mostly because I couldn’t wait for the day when the class lists would be posted. In my school there were four 6th grade teachers. Two of the teachers were middle-of-the-road, one would let you get away with anything, and the last had really high expectations and a reputation for giving a lot of extra work that involved projects every month. I knew I wanted that teacher and it was all I talked about that summer. The day of posting finally came and I was one of the first to arrive at the class list board. To my surprise, I had gotten the teacher I wanted and I was thrilled. The year that followed was great. I remember being challenged a lot and for the first time having someone expect a lot out of me, other than my parents of course.
Today we live in a society where it has become okay to expect less. People have been trained to think and accept less from just about everyone. Smaller clients get pushed aside for larger ones. Phone calls don’t get returned and deadlines are repeatedly missed. Employees don’t do the things they should; they deliver less and don’t follow through. Unfortunately, this has become the norm.
I was recently called out for having too high expectations. For about a day I felt guilty and it caused me to re-examine my goals. As I spoke to my husband, my true compass for all things, I realized that I should never feel guilty for having high expectations. I have found that having high expectations has fostered an environment of growth in and around me. Whether it’s service from your vendors and your employees or personal development, here is what high expectations can do for you.
- Challenge Your Employees. Employees want to be challenged. What I enjoyed so much about my 6th grade year was being able to learn and rise to the occasion. It was a tough year that required a lot of extra work, but I felt a sense of accomplishment at the end of it. Your employees can too, with the right direction. Most employees don’t want to do the same thing over and over again. They want exposure to new challenges.
- Set a Standard. Regardless of your role, people will live up to or down to the expectations you set. If you don’t set the standard they will, and you may not like it. I believe that people are capable of more than we give them credit for so unless you expect more, they won’t do more. Higher expectations allow you to get the very best that people have to offer.
- Create Engagement. High expectations show that you care. Caring is only one factor in creating engagement with others, but it’s an important one. Engaged employees and vendors deliver a better product or service at the end of the day.
While I firmly believe having high expectations is a good thing, I also believe they must be realistic expectations. As you work with vendors and employees, your high expectations must be rooted in context. For people to rise to the occasion, they must have the right training, support and circumstances. This means that what you expect from one person may be slightly different than the next, based on their experience and training.