Renegotiating Expectations in a New Reality

Do your current business expectations make you cringe?


It’s a word with profound meaning to all of us, professionally and personally. Do you feel stuck in some of your current expectations? Does thinking about them even make you cringe? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately myself. For sure, expectations have a big impact on managing a business, and how we handle ourselves as leaders—and they play a big part in having a satisfying personal life, too.  

Frankly, we don’t always deal with unmet expectations really well. Because expectations are those assumptions we strongly believe in, and the presumptions we make about something we want to happen in the future, we struggle with adjusting them or letting them go. They can be heavily ingrained and trip us up or blind us making needed changes and to pursuing new opportunities. 

Renegotiating Expectations in a New Reality - Leading Edge Teams

Expectations are definitely thoughts and feelings that can be a challenge when they are not met.

That’s why renegotiating them, making them flexible, is important. As I’m working with clients now, at least in my career experience, I feel our current time in history is an unequaled time of business change. Pretty much every company we (at Leading Edge Teams) work with has had to throw out their strategic plan this year. We all need to remember, the global business environment has changed so muchpractically overnight—and with it, expectations must be overhauled and updated. Sound decision-making requires realistic expectations. 

I imagine your company has had to rethink your goals, and what you are going to go for right now, today. Much of revamping expectations is pretty much based on the ongoing changes going on out there in the business world since 2020.

Right now, I’m saying this often.

“You can't apply old expectations to a new reality or situation.” 2023 and 2024 present new realities in the business world. 

With this new reality, you can choose to respond positively to what's changed. That means that you cannot keep all the old expectations and simply add some more. They too must change!  

In business, I want you to know that you’re doing a really great job if you meet the vast majority of your expectations. But with all the variables like we have now, businesses set themselves up to lose if they don’t plan to adjust expectations, whether new or old.

Not only is that true for business, but I want you to know today that this is true for your self-expectations as well. All of us have a way we perform best in our business, in our lives— those things that we're used to and make us comfortable, right? 

You know what to expect from yourself. I bet you are a high performer, ambitious, and  strive to achieve, and to bring the best of yourself to every situation. This type of behavior is awesome, and you don't want to stop it, but if you don't adjust your self-expectations to this new reality, you will be overwhelmed with too much to do. Your brain power will be scattered and fractured. Reassess what is important for yourself to concentrate energy on. It is a new reality. 

What are obvious changes in today’s work environments? 
  • More people are now working from home or blending office and home commitments. 
  • The rhythm of business has changed too. Family needs are receiving more attention and care, and company’s are flexing schedules to meet those needs. It's a new reality!
  • CEOs and executive leaders are reassessing what is most important. Due to their employees’ needs, they must make adjustments to priorities and expectations. 
  • A different set of work circumstances has caused reprioritizing time and effort. (For example, at Leading Edge Teams, we have a big list of internal company goals to accomplish, but reality tells us that our clients need more business coaching for dealing with change this year, so our internal company goals need to be delayed. Otherwise, we would be working day and night and not be doing a good job with any of it.) Does this sound familiar to you? If so, adjust internal priorities to your current market realities.   
  • For each individual to do their best work, compassion towards self and others has taken on more importance. 
Give yourself a break.

Adjusting your self-expectations includes making time for self-care and relaxing activities. This assures you can show up your best, and enables you to handle more stress, manage ongoing change, and to be more flexible and resilient for the long haul. 

  • Shift where and when you and your team have high-level performance expectations. Acceptance that people won’t perform at high levels in everything they do throughout the day has gained greater awareness.

To wrap up and to unify business leaders, I encourage you to establish clear expectations for yourself (and your team) and revisit expectations often. Communicate to all team members affected. Confirm that expectations are attainable and realistic. Restructure when needed—repeat the process again as needed. From there, confirm that your business expectations result in team alignment, efficiency and achievement, and help you attain your desired business outcomes.  

And remember,

Renegotiating expectations is a positive thing; it’s a healthy process in business. Don’t hesitate to shift expectations, because markets change and business goals frequently do not go exactly as planned—especially now!   

This is leadership!

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