My kiddo’s third grade class was scheduled to go on a field trip today and field trips are not his strong suit. A bit of a whirling dervish, he tends to make field trips challenging for the teachers and the chaperones in tow. For several days coaching has ensued. “On Thursday, you have a field trip scheduled. Here’s what we expect.”….”Tomorrow, you have a field trip scheduled…”….”When you go on your field trip today…”
We laid it all out there – the expectations, the carrots for making good choices (sorry, Dan Pink, while I absolutely love your work, I just couldn’t rely on intrinsic motivation this morning), everything he would need to know to be set up for success.
Needless to say, it was with great trepidation that I opened his teacher’s email following their adventure to the Botanical Garden.
“He did GREAT!” she wrote (Yes! All-caps-GREAT!)! “We spoke to him about all facets of the trip and went over what was expected. He did so well he even earned bonus points!”
There will be much celebration (Japanese food – his favorite – and a mini-lego kit) in our household tonight.
You know, it’s really not all that different for grown-ups. Having expectations clearly laid out makes a big difference in how successful people can be. For some reason, once we enter the workforce, we think that people should be able to read our minds. That they know what we expect. If they disappoint us, we blame them. “They should know!”
Look, I’m not pointing fingers. When you’re juggling a million things, it’s natural to forge full speed ahead – to make assumptions that everyone is on the same page and wants the same things. But I am suggesting that our results suffer because of it. And if we’re really committed to getting powerful results, we need to look at how well we’re communicating expectations ahead of time.
Because it’s a lot better to be celebrating than not.