A client had been preparing for a job interview and was seeking to meet expectations. During the interview, he started to notice a few details which seemed to him to be incoherent with the company’s website.
As we debriefed his interview we took the time to look into these details to help him compare his perception with his own expectations towards the company. It had not occurred to him beforehand to make himself aware of his expectations.
A typical hindsight is 2020 situation. By not making himself aware of his expectations he was prepared to make a blind choice. He was willing to let time show him how good of a match he would find his future employer. His focus had been on getting the job, not on getting a job that is right for him.
Expectations are the basis for negotiation and reaching a common goal.
They are the foundation for cooperation. Especially once they are shared.
Expectations are also creating the alarm signal for possible disruptions in the cooperation. This signal appears any time we start to doubt if we are doing the right thing or if we are receiving the right thing.
But the question isn’t mainly if we are receiving or giving the right thing. The question is much more if what is happening corresponds to what both want.
While expectations belong to the individual, the outcome can still be common.
But it is the moment that doubt arises about meeting our expectations that we have an opportunity to check in with the other if there is a common reason to doubt. And if there is, to realign ourselves with our work or to let it go.
We frequently let go of this doubt and thus the opportunity to proactively lead the process. It is leaving the responsibility to the other to make sure that they get what they want. It is hoping that we in turn will be well served too.
In the case of my client, he was expecting that his future employer would know who they want and would be able to determine if he was a match. He was not stepping in to see if he found the employer to be the right match for himself. Leaving the answer to his gut instinct.
In coaching, the situation is the same. Have I been pushing a point and trying to make my client see something? Is he resisting or did he stop listening? Is he engaged or just following along?
Any time doubts come up, I have an occasion to verify if what I am doing is in my client’s interest, meets his needs and expectations. Checking in with the client creates the space for him to feel safe and heard. At the same time, it helps me verify if I am on the right track and if I’m working with the subject he wants to talk about.
Checking in keeps it a fluid process. It makes any need to adapt process or content visible while allowing us to address our respective expectations.