Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Clear goals and expectations

Following on the Dilbert theme in the previous post let's talk a little about clear goals and expectations. I really like truisms as you can probably tell. I decided a few weeks ago that I was not going to subject myself to a burden of proof or provide serious documentation in this blog. This is going to be about what I've learned in a practical sense of life and business. These are knowings that have passed the smell test over and over again and worked for me. I don't need to check the references at this point.

Having clear goals and expectations in every relationship personal or otherwise is critical. Virtually all conflict stems from the disconnect between the realty and the expectations in any relationship. Now think about how bad it gets when the realities of a situation are present but the expectations are virtually non-existent. We're disconnected at step one with no hope of ever finding a path to a common understanding or a future moment when we can have a wild celebration marking our tremendous success. We have no milestones, no check points, no markers along the path to tell us how we're progressing. We only have the daily drone and the nerve racking vulnerability of being directed, redirected and redirected again into infinity. Does the fun ever start?

If football was played this way on each down the official would come to the line of scrimmage and arbitrarily decide how many yards the offense needs to gain for a first down on this play. Now that would be fun. "Gentlemen, on this play you need to gain 12 yards for a first down". On the last play they needed to gain 3 yards to get the first down and on the next play it might be 35 yards. If you think there are too many fights in hockey wait until they play football using these rules. Welcome to a lot of families and work places my friends.

The problem here is, things become very subjective and the balance of power shifts radically to the party who is setting, or should I say, not setting the standard. Many of these people are just plain incompetent but some are very slick manipulators who enjoy limited accountability and a world of flexibility. They enjoy the power this gives them. Someone is paying a price for this in goodwill and productivity and this group is large. It impacts businesses, schools, governments, families, marriages and friendships.

Is it really so hard to say .... this is what we want to accomplish and this is the time frame that has been set to achieve this goal. Mid-course corrections are expected but here is were we are going and this is when we expect to get there. Now let's get to work. For some this is impossible.

Thanks for reading.

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