Expectations are alive and well in our interpersonal lives.
There are spouse-spouse expectations, parent-child expectations, and supervisor-employee expectations. If any one of the partners in these parings keeps his/her expectations hidden, then someone is likely to end up “in the soup.”
Consider the supervisor-employee relationship, for example. Supervisors have expectations of employees and vice versa. Supervisors expect employees to work with minimum guidance and direction, leave personal problems at home, complete their work on time, go the extra mile for praise and awards, help slower employees keep up, and keep neat and clean work areas, just to name a few. On the other hand, employees expect their supervisors to give them detailed guidance when assigning tasks, help them with their personal problems, give them reasonable deadlines, provide fair evaluations and awards, distribute the work equitably, and be competent leaders.
It is not uncommon for some of these expectations to remain hidden. When supervisors hear employees say, “I didn’t know you expected that, they should realize they are “in the soup.” When employees hear supervisors say, “You’re grown, I expect you would know better than to do what you did,” they are “in the soup.”
In order to stay out of the soup, supervisors should schedule periodic expectations meetings. In those meetings, the supervisor should give the employees the opportunity to share their expectations first and then the supervisors can disclose their own expectations. (If the supervisors go first, the employees might not fully disclose their expectations.) If any of the expectations are in direct contrast with each other, the supervisor should lead the employee in working out a solution or compromise.
Once all expectations are disclosed and agreed upon, there is no doubt what is required. It is very uncommon in the workplace for employees to have the opportunity to tell their bosses what they expect. However, bosses who use expectations meetings as one of their leadership strategies, tend to have better relationships with their employees … and stay out of the expectations soup.