‘I raise my voice not so that i can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard.’
– Malala Yousafzai
‘The ratio of ‘We’s’ to ‘I’s’ is the best indicator of the development of a team.’
– Lewis B. Ergen
What to do when there’s too much to do.
It’s the same old story: impossible deadlines, unachievable KPI’s, not enough team members, inadequate budgets and bosses who seem to live in a fantasy land.
Whilst setting goals is perfectly normal and an expected part of any job, the reality is that setting the bar too high has incredibly negative ramifications on employees and over time, the business as well.
Unrealistic expectations in the workplace can have immediate effects on employees and the business, including:
A DROP IN WORK QUALITY
What happens when we have deadlines that are unrealistic? We rush. We cut corners and we don’t double check things…. because we don’t have time!
And when we rush, we miss things. The quality of our work is sacrificed and things become sloppy and disjointed.
Who would want to get out of bed and go to work, knowing they will never live up to their bosses expectations?
Unrealistic expectations create stress and anxiety which costs workplaces money in sick/ stress leave.
Not only does absenteeism go up, but pressure rises too – the rest of the team has to pick up the slack.
When there are unrealistic expectations, deadlines and due dates become increasingly difficult to achieve.
This becomes a massive issue, especially in team environments, where missing due dates could potentially mean missing out on bonuses.
Setting unrealistic goals, time-frames or other expectations in the workplace not only have immediate ramifications, but can also lead to longer lasting issues in the workplace, including:
People don’t want to work in a job that has an unattainable ideal. If workers don’t get praise, or manage to reach goals and feel successful, they end up disenchanted.
Often, employees feel they have to seek validation and success somewhere else.
This is a huge issue, where companies want to achieve great things, but end up losing workers with valuable knowledge and experience in the process.
If the work is ‘never done’ and the goals are never met, when do staff get a chance to celebrate their achievements?
When we don’t celebrate the successes, it can lead to low self-esteem, low motivation and productivity, and eventually, low morale.
FAILURE BECOMES ACCEPTED
If success is not an option and targets are set too high, failure is a given. Sometimes, this failure becomes the norm, and eventually accepted.
People stop trying, projects become doomed, and no one achieves their true potential. Not only that, but respect for managers becomes non-existent and employees become un-willing to do anything but the bare minimum.
Unrealistic expectations make for an uninterested, unproductive team. It affects employees, managers and the company as a whole, so it is worth tackling properly. So how to we do that?
Understand Your Employees
How will you know what your workers are capable of doing, if you have no idea of the scope of their skill set?
Understanding what people are good at, what they need help with and who is able to help them are all important things to know.
You also need to know their limits.
If you know your Call Centre employees can make roughly 80 calls a day, you don’t set the target to 300. If you know a job requires at least 4 people, don’t make one person do it.
Gallup uses the Clifton Strength Finder is an amazing way to understand the people who work for you, and how they tick.
But asking questions, being available and have a workforce that isn’t dehumanized is a great place to start!
If you want to make sure you aren’t setting unrealistic expectations, looking at trends in your data is a great tool.
Not only that, but asking for feedback from the people who work for you is an excellent way to keep an eye on morale, while also finding out what works and what doesn’t.
If you can keep track of the numbers, and can see there hasn’t been any goals hit for months, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate.
These days, there are even websites like Peakon, which gathers employee feedback, and can provide insights for improvement.
Be Reasonable & Outline Expectations
Look at the project you need completed as a whole. If you want something completely in a month, what resources will you need? How many people, how many hours, how much money, etc., etc.,etc.
You can’t just decide what you want and when you want it and dive right in without a plan.
Take a step back and consider what the entirety of the picture looks like, and how it will be achieved.
Only then can you set the expectations, and only then will they be thought out and reasonable.
Support Your Staff!!!
You’re all in this together!
Why put unnecessary pressure and unrealistic expectations on the people you see day in and day out? They’re there because they have the ability to make real changes in the company – so support them!
As Wolfgang Von Goethe puts it:
‘A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together.’
Forget annual performance reviews and catered lunches – this is what Millennials really want from their workplace.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, it’s not news that the Millennial Generation have a huge impact on the workforce.
Already accounting for 50% (due to increase to 75% by 2025), Millennials are here to stay. And unless your company is willing to challenge their thinking and meet the needs of the demographic majority, chances are, you and your company will be left behind.
So what can you do to create a company that accommodates and encourages Millennial growth?
Mentors often provide knowledge and skills to help facilitate success in all areas of life, especially in the professional arena.
A study done by the British Academy of Management on the link between mentoring and company retention suggests that mentoring programs for the Millennial Generation are needed.
Mentoring can widely improve retention among the Millennial Generation, who are eager to learn from their peers and improve their soft skills, such as communication and interaction with others.
Millennials want to be challenged, and want to push boundaries – so it’s important they’re shown how to do this in a constructive way. Without good mentor-ship, Millennials will instead challenge and push your boundaries, in an effort to be heard.
If you want loyal employees, skip the freebies and ‘perks’, and focus on good company culture.
The Millennial Generation is motivated by company culture. According to ProSky, a performance-based hiring company, 33% of Millennials research the company they apply for before they apply for a job.
Your culture is your company’s ‘DNA’ so to speak, so it’s important to be forward thinking when it comes to Millennials.
If your workplace isn’t a purpose-driven, transparent environment, where people feel connected and encouraged, chances are, your employees aren’t going to want to stick around. Company loyalty isn’t kept with catered lunches and fake smiles – it’s kept with honesty, integrity and room for people to grow.
Forget annual performance reviews – The Harvard Business Review, among countless other studies, suggest that Millennials want a constant stream of feedback – fueled by their need for success.
Continuous feedback equals continuous improvement and allows for positive growth within the company.
The Millennial Generation is in constant search of the next challenge and feedback allows them to refine their goals.
Rather than compartmentalizing different aspects of their lives, the Millennial Generation view work as a key part of life. It is for this reason that creates a need for Millennials to feel fulfilled in their chosen workplace.
Although it may seem that Millennials have a high expectation of what work should be, this is also paired with high expectations of themselves. They crave feedback in order to grow professionally and as individuals.
If people feel like they’re being invested in, they’re more likely to be a positively engaged employee.
Everyone likes a little recognition when they do something for someone else – and Millennials are no different. With the rise of instant gratification through social media and internet platforms, recognition has become a huge deal to Millennials.
Luckily for the company, it costs absolutely nothing to let your employees know they’re doing a good job.
An article in Forbes Magazine, however, noted that only 39% of Millennials said their boss does a good job at recognizing and acknowledging their accomplishments. That’s a lot of people who don’t know whether they’re under or over-performing.
Surprisingly, their are still bosses who aren’t ‘into’ positive reinforcement. But positive reinforcement isn’t just about giving someone a pat on the back – it’s an excellent teaching tool, backed by the psychological principle that reinforces good behaviour, making it more likely that the behaviour will reoccur.
This may come as a shock, but life is a little more fast-paced now than it used to be. People are working more than ever, the cost of living has increased, we have a ‘FOMO’ Complex (fear of missing out) and we jam so much into our lives we have to schedule specific time off just to relax.
But as we looked at before, the Millennial Generation also doesn’t see work as ‘separate’ from other aspects of their lives. They also don’t think that productivity should necessarily be measured by the number of hours in the office.
These days, with the rise of technology, many people can do the same thing they do in the office, from home, the gym or directly from their mobile phone.
Which begs the question – is it so wrong to want more flexibility from our workplaces? Is the 9-5 structure outdated or even obsolete? Millennials want to work – but need more stability than the average casual employment opportunity.
As the times change, companies need to adapt in order to continue company growth and maintain employee loyalty. There are plenty of companies who are doing their research and starting to move away from the 9-5 grind:
Apple have ‘At Home Advisors’ now, Starbucks have a ‘College Achievement Plan’ for employees who work more than 20 hours a week – providing the opportunity to complete a degree with full tuition – and Upwork, an online freelance marketplace, has ‘Work Online Wednesdays’.
There are plenty of ways to become more flexible as a workplace – it’s just a matter of finding creative, new solutions to stale, old problems. Millennials want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem, and they gain a bad rap by being stereotyped as lazy and unmotivated, which is far from the truth.
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