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Navigating Workplace Expectations: Keys to Cultivating Trust and Respect

Expectations quietly shape many of our center interactions.  These unspoken agreements form the backbone of collaboration, defining roles, responsibilities, anticipated outcomes and even trust among co-workers. Workplace expectations range from project deadlines and performance standards to the unspoken rules governing office culture and relationships. Understanding the delicate dance of expectations is vital for cultivating an environment where staff can thrive and work collectively toward shared objectives.

Consider the scenario where the Development Director sets expectations for a committee tasked with planning a successful fundraising event. In this situation, clear communication about project milestones, individual responsibilities and deadlines are of extreme importance. In another instance, the Executive Director will have expectations about charting, data storage and communications as it pertains to HIPAA compliance but may not feel it necessary to remind the medical staff on a day to day basis because this is a routine aspect of the job. The intricacies of workplace expectations also extend beyond task-related matters to include more personal dynamics, where expectations of collaboration, respect, care and communication contribute to a peaceful work environment.

Unmet expectations and pitfalls often stem from assumptions, miscommunications or no communication at all. When expectations are left unspoken or poorly communicated, the stage is set for misunderstandings, unmet deadlines and undue emotional distress. In my own experiences, I've found that clearly defining expectations, whether in team collaborations or client interactions, significantly reduces the likelihood of disappointments and conflicts. Open lines of communication will safeguard against assumptions, providing a safe place to ask questions and ensure proper understanding of expectations.

Here are 5 keys to ensure clear communication of expectations: 

  1. Be Specific: Clearly articulate what is expected, leaving no room for guessing. Use specific language and provide details about tasks, goals, and desired outcomes. Avoid vague or generalized statements that may lead to misunderstandings.

  2. Practice Active Listening: Communication goes both ways and both parties are likely to have expectations. Practicing active listening and asking pointed questions will help you to understand their perspective and address any uncertainties.

  3. Open Feedback: Establish a feedback channel that encourages open communication. Regularly check in with team members or committees to ensure that expectations are being met and address any issues that may arise before they get out of hand. Keep in mind that constructive feedback can help in refining expectations and make your team more productive.

  4. Documentation: Documenting plans and expectations provides a reference for all parties involved. Whether it's project guidelines or job responsibilities, having written documentation serves as a clear reference point and helps keep staff on task.

  5. Flexibility: Acknowledge that expectations may need to adapt to changing circumstances. Encourage a flexible mindset and be open to adjusting expectations when necessary. Clearly communicate any changes and involve those who are relevant in the decision-making process.

By embracing these principles, you’ll create an atmosphere of trust, respect and understanding strengthening the bonds that lead to successful communication in your center.


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