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On Sales Strategies: Managing Expectations Key to Managing Staff

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On Sales Strategies: Managing Expectations Key to Managing Staff

Remember: Employees have a different idea of what ‘work’ means

BY RICK SEGEL

Published in the September 2013 issue

The longer I live the more I become a believer in what I refer to as “expectation management.” Expectation management is the science and art of controlling what someone might expect from any situation. It might be a store where we expect shelves that are filled with merchandise and employees who are attentive to our every need. We learn how to wow our customers by exceeding their expectations. The difficulty occurs when we try to determine what exactly the customer expects. If we think something is a wow but they just saw it in two different stores, it is no longer a wow to that customer.

The same rules apply to employer/employee relationships. Employees need clearly defined tasks, goals, and even ways that they can wow their bosses. Can an employer be too good? Yes, they can be good to a fault. How does that occur? It is when the manager overdoes praise for every little thing and gives the employee a false sense of job security or an attitude that “I don’t have to kill myself — they already love me here.” Then when the performance drops, the constant flow of praise ends and creates negative feelings and friction among the entire staff.

There is another area that creates friction between the manager and employee. That is when you deal with contrasting belief structures. The most common contrasting belief structure is when a store owner has a natural attitude toward entrepreneurship, and the employee lacks any type of entrepreneurial thinking. The entrepreneur says, “Let’s make it happen and if we have to put in some extra time, let’s do it.” However, if he is working with an employee who is rigid in his thinking and believes he must start work at a certain time and end work at a certain time, take his breaks without any regard to what is happening in the store, this situation can create tension and friction for all.

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The problem is both sides believe they are right. The employee believes he is doing the right thing because he doesn’t think like an entrepreneur. The employer is frustrated because his beliefs and goals are to make it work regardless of what it takes.

What’s the solution? How do we get the most out of all of our employees? First, create clearly defined and attainable goals. Spell out the tasks that have to be done. Reach an agreement on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis of things that must be done, should be done and could be done. This way you will get the employee involved in the decision-making process. It sounds sensible and fair, right? But it doesn’t always work out because you are trying to change the belief structure and make your employee more entrepreneurial.

Instead, what you may have to do is create a simple task list that you will then need to follow up on and check off. For years I believed this was an archaic way of thinking and even degrading to the worker. That was because I think like an entrepreneur.

So if you want to be a great boss, recognize the workers who can handle self-direction and those who require a structured environment. Instead of training our employees, maybe it is time we re-train ourselves to get the most out of every employee we have.

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