Agreements vs Expectations

Expectations and assumptions are the source of many conflicts and disagreements in business. An example of where this conflict arises is when we hire someone to do a job and then, without any real explanation as to exactly what we require, we let them get on with it until we realise that they are not doing it the way we wanted or the way we assumed they should. 

Cue the antagonism, frustration and possibly the firing of the unfortunate employee with the complaint that ‘It’s so hard to find good people!’

The cost of unspoken expectations

Despite the cost of hiring, the waste of time, the impact on the other person and the negative impact on our business, we feel fully justified in our position and actions. Afterall, we say, ‘They should have known what to do, that’s what I am paying them for!’. Perhaps they should have known. Perhaps they should have clarified exactly what was required.

However, we are the ones doing the hiring. It is our business. We are supposed to know what we require from this person.

Therefore, in the best interests of ourselves and the employee, we have an obligation to communicate precisely how we want them to behave, precisely how we would like the job executed, precisely the end result that we need and the deadline date for completion.

Not only that, but we also have an obligation to ensure that they fully understand what is being requested of them and that they are adequately trained to do the job in the way that we require.

Vague concept to clarity

Ideally, and especially when we are dealing with third parties such as suppliers or customers, we should remove all possible ambiguity by creating an agreement along the lines of, “This is what I require from you” and in return, “This is what I will commit to you”.

Put it on a single sheet of paper and both parties can sign it to confirm their understanding and commitment. Now you have clarity. Now you have agreement and not some vague unclear concept known as expectation or assumption!

Applied properly, this approach would solve many staff related issues, many problems around getting paid, even customer complaints and supplier fails, amongst others. 

So, with all that in mind, are there any burning issues or conflicts in your business at present which might have been different if there had been an agreement in place rather than you assuming or expecting something from another party?

Are there any areas where creating an agreement rather than relying on expectations would make things easier and more effective?

I learned this concept from one of my favourite coaches, Steve Chandler. He is worth checking out.

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