101. Clear expectations versus not-so-clear expectations.

On Saturday I witnessed two examples of the power of The Habit of Setting Clear Expectations.

One resulted in an extremely pleasant experience while the other resulted in anger and frustration.

The pleasant experience involved my wife Gimalle and me. Gimalle had decide several months ago that the time had come to replace the carpet in our two bedrooms with hardwood flooring.

We had done the rest of the condo some five years ago and after several month spent visiting flooring stores, we finally found a product that was a close match to what we have.

A friend recommended an installer and he came over and took precise measurement.

All arrangements were made, expectations set and agreed to and the process began on Thursday evening when the flooring was dropped off by the installer to our condo.

They had said they would begin at 9 AM on Saturday and at 9 AM they were standing in the doorway. It is always a pleasure to watch true professionals at work and the installer and his nephew – obviously a team well accustomed to working together – went straight to work. They had said the job would be between 10 and 10 ½ hours and once they left we would not know they had been here.

That is exactly what happened. Apart from a short break at noon when Gimalle walked over to a local restaurant to pick up a couple of pizzas they worked nonstop until the job was done to everyone’s satisfaction. The last function was to clean up the mess, remove the old carpet from the hallway where they placed it and they were on their way by around 7:30 PM leaving us with beautiful new flooring in both bedrooms and with every piece of furniture restored to exactly where they’ve been prior to their arrival.

Now let’s contrast this with another experience that happened to a young couple moving in to their first home in our building on Saturday.

We all too familiar with horror stories from moving companies which is not to suggest that all moving companies are corrupt, derelict in their duty, or just plain incompetetent.

I had occasion to go down to the lobby several times during the day and at one time I saw the husband talking to our concierge about some damage to the hallway that had been incurred by their movers. Our concierge explained that that damage was the responsibility of the owner’s and that while we, the building management, take care of the repairs, the cost would be charged back to the two of them.

It seems that the damage to the hallway was not the only damage caused by these two movers. They complained of extensive damage inside the sweet – of gouges in the walls and even of a broken chandelier that had been attacked by a mattress wending its way into the suite.

Naturally curious I asked them how they had come across these movers and they commented that I had they had found them online.

They had not taken the time to do any background checks, ask for references, and talk to satisfied customers they had simply assumed that these folks knew what they were doing.

At no point did they establish clearly laid out expectations of a damage free move and that in the event that damage was incurred by the movers they would be responsible for the cost of repairs.

Listening to the explanation made me realize how important it is to never assume anything and to always set clearly defined expectations.

When it came time to pay the bill they said they would be holding back several hundred dollars to cover the damage which caused one of the movers to produce a signed contract and point to a clause that said under no circumstances will there be any holdbacks. They later admitted that had signed the contract without taking the time to read through it.

As the movers were exiting the building loading their truck up with their blankets our concierge pointed out that we would be contacting them regarding the damage that incurred in the hallway. The only response he received was “good luck with that.”

Clearly they have no intention of paying for any damage they caused and just wanted to leave with cash in hand and go on to the next poorly executed job.

The next day I ran into the young couple as they were taking their dog out for a walk and they sheepishly acknowledged that they just assumed the obvious – that these folks knew what they were doing and would be careful and not damage any property

And old saying reminds us that “nothing is obvious to the uninformed” and that taking the time to incorporate The Habit of Setting Clear Expectations goes a long way to resolving issues when they occur.

For this young couple it’s been a relatively inexpensive lesson – perhaps a few hundred dollars – but it’s one I’m sure they have learned and learned well.

It just makes so much sense to always be clear in any relationship; business, personal, family and neighbours. That does not mean that you march into a neighbour’s house sit them down in the living room and lay out your expectations of how they conduct themselves.

What it does mean is that when something occurs that you don’t agree with that is the time to have a conversation for not doing so gives them permission to repeat the behaviour and while doing so – setting the expectation – may not prevent the repeat of the behaviour, doing nothing is not only not setting expectations it makes you complicit in the problem.

The Habit of Setting Clear Expectations.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.
My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at http://www.lifesinksorsoars.com and let me know what you think.

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