Thin line between productivity and unrealistic expectations
In everyone’s career, there is a time when you are completely stressed out and trying hard to be positive to meet the expectations of your Leader. After doing everything you still find your self in a situation where you fail to satisfy yourself or your company.
Well, Don’t blame yourself yet.
As an Employee
Several things may be a part of your bad performance or decrease in work productivity. Some of the key things that can result in this situation are unrealistic goals set by the top management, missing skills to perform a certain task, availability of your lead, work ethics, and working environment.
Always be true to your self. If you are following work ethics like check-in and check-out times, giving your best to the tasks assigned, managing your daily work properly, on time in the meetings and any other thing that can improve your work then you need to think about leaving your current company. And if any of the above is missing from your daily routine then you should first improve yourself.
As a Lead/Manager/Employer
Setting goals that push staff to achieve their best can lead to very positive results. On the other hand, setting unrealistic goals can have a negative impact on employees and the business. Here are some of the effects that may occur in the short-term:
Missed delivery dates
Setting unrealistic expectations means that it’s increasingly unlikely that your team will be able to achieve them. If your team regularly misses targets, this could lead to questions raised from your own manager, asking why your team is underachieving.
Reduced work quality
To achieve unrealistic expectations, employees may be forced to rush work, cut corners, and not take proper care. This can lead to mistakes and poor quality outcomes.
If you set your budget based on unrealistic expectations, you may be surprised when project costs overrun. If your deadline is also unrealistic, staff may need to spend longer on the project and work overtime, which all adds to your overall cost.
Increase in absenteeism
If expectations of employees are too high, this could lead to them taking time off work for stress-related illnesses. This only increases the pressure, as the rest of your team will need to meet set targets with one less pair of hands.
Setting unrealistic expectations can also impact your business in the long-term too. Here are some of the long-lasting effects to consider:
Low morale – Staff often get a buzz from hitting their targets. However, if that goal is constantly unrealistic, employees can feel like they’re not achieving. This can impact self-esteem, motivation, and productivity, which can damage your bottom-line.
Staff may aim lower – If targets are regularly set too high, staff will constantly fail to meet them. Over time, this failure can almost become accepted. As a result, staff may no longer try their absolute hardest, even if targets are lowered. This can have a detrimental effect on all future projects.
Lose respect – Staff want to feel like they’re achieving their targets but are instead constantly being set up for failure. So, if you keep asking for the impossible, you can quickly lose the respect of your whole team.
Higher staff turnover– If staff feel like they can never, and will never, be able to meet your unrealistic expectations, they may feel like their only option is to resign. Not only do you lose valuable knowledge and expertise, there’s even more chance that the remainder of your team will begin to exit your company.
How to avoid setting unrealistic expectations
As you can see, setting unrealistic expectations for staff can have serious ramifications. It can not only affect employees themselves, but also the business and ultimately its success. It’s therefore important for this behavior to stop.
Make a change now by following these six steps:
- Recognize the issues – The first step is realizing that you set unrealistic expectations. Review previous projects, or ask your team if they think your targets are fair or unobtainable.
- Think before setting expectations – Just because you want something to be completed within a month, doesn’t mean it can be completed in that timeframe. Take a step back and consider the amount of work required and what resources you have available, before setting a deadline. This also applies to expectations that are being pushed on you from above too.
- Clearly define requirements – Whilst deadlines may at first seem reasonable, these can quickly become unrealistic if more requirements are added. To avoid any surprises or missed deadlines, clearly outline requirements and targets right from the start.
- Use your employee’s experience – Instead of relying on guesswork, speak to your team about how long they think a project will take and what resources will be needed. You may even find that if they are involved in setting deadlines and budgets, they will be more committed to meeting them.
- Re-estimate – If you realize you’re not going to make a certain deadline, don’t just let staff struggle. Discuss with staff how much longer they need. This will give employees something more realistic and achievable to aim for.
- Support your staff – Instead of setting expectations and then putting increased pressure on staff to perform, try supporting your team as much as possible (this might include mentoring) to help them achieve the best they can. Remember that the best leaders don’t manage; they lead!
Ending Note an Employee: As an employee, if you face these issues with you in your company then try to look for a better opportunity rather than staying and waiting for your lead or employer to realize these issues. If you are confident and skilled enough and you have know you can be a good resource then wait no more. There are some employers or Leads out there who are so hard-headed that they don’t realize that the problem is not in the resource working under you and they at some point they don’t even want to be corrected that they are not doing what their role is requiring them to do so. When your employer/lead is taking the responsibilities of your success and on the other hand starts blaming you if anything goes down without considering the possibility that there might be some issue in the environment provided or expectations then it is a warning for you to start rethinking about the ins and outs of the situation very clearly.