Hospitality Financial Leadership: Expectations vs. Agreements
November 19, 2018 10:58am
By David Lund
In life, few things make us less productive and more distant than other people’s expectations of us. Expectations are everywhere, at work and at home. People detest others expectations.
Uncommunicated expectations were not productive, especially when real work and strong relationships were required. Yet uncommunicated expectations were cast everywhere and they were weak.
If I had a complaint in my world, it quickly became an expectation that someone else needed to fix. I tended to fixate over the injustice and in doing so I created my expectations. What I saw was that this was completely ineffective for getting things to change. Complaints were very easy to ignore and diminish; however, requests were not easy to ignore. Once we made a request we were heading in the right direction, because on the other side of a request we now have the ability to make an agreement.
Let’s take a hotel example. Currently, I was having a very hard time getting other managers to prepare detailed monthly forecasts and get these to me by the 30th of the month. I sent a schedule and reminders. I spoke at the department head meetings about the deadline, but I still didn’t get a high success rate on submissions. It was always a struggle to get others to do what I expected. Without the forecast, I was left with two very unattractive options: do it myself or go without it. Both options meant I was shortchanged because others were not living up to my expectations.
Now, I had two alternatives: 1) Complain about it, which I had done for years without results, or 2) Make another request. This was the pivot point.
If I was willing to admit that my current status was due to my expectations, and I could bring myself to ask the other party for agreement, the conversation might go something like this.
“Peter, will you help me? I want to include your numbers, not mine, as part of the detailed forecast. Will you complete your part and get it to me by noon on the 30th?”
Now it might not be easy for Peter to say, “Sure, no problem.”
But now the exact expectation was known because it was what was asked for. Or the request might get reviewed in a different light like, “I could, but that means I’m going to have to rearrange my week because my assistant is on holiday and our second office computer is dead.”
This was what I wanted to hear. This was the foundation of an agreement as now both parties asked for something. It was no longer the case of my having a single expectation. Now there were multiple balls in the air; some were mine and some belonged to other people.
Turn the unmet expectation into a request and the request into an agreement like this: “OK, so I will send the systems person to your office today to switch out the second computer, but I’m not sure what I can do to help you rearrange the rest of the week.”
To which Peter replied, “No worries, with the computer replaced I can manage. I will gladly get you my forecast by the 30th.”
Let’s break it down and figure out what happened in this example:
This communication exchange was the foundation of an agreement. It passed the test of an agreement because it had four parts, two for me and two for Peter. The test was “give and get.” In this example, Peter got his computer fixed and gave me the information on time. I gave the resources to fix the computer and I got the report on time.
Before the request and the agreement, it was just me asking. I wasn’t giving anything and what it boiled down to was I had an expectation of Peter, but no agreement. That was a weak negotiating position to accomplish any task.
Now, some people are reading this and thinking, “I’m the boss and people need to do as I say” or “I don’t have time to make agreements with everyone”. These issues are partly true. But if expectations aren’t getting met, there is nothing to lose in trying this technique.
A commitment to drop expectations and start making agreements instead worked best. Yes, it took time to make agreements and find out how to help other people, but it was well worth the investment.
Tags: david lund,
hospitality financial leadership,
David Lund is The Hotel Financial Coach, an international hospitality financial leadership pioneer. He has held positions as a Regional Financial Controller, Corporate Director and Hotel Manager with Fairmont Hotels for over 30 years.
He authored an award-winning workshop on Hospitality Financial Leadership and has delivered it to hundreds of hotel managers and leaders. David coach’s hospitality executives and delivers his Financial Leadership Workshops throughout the world, helping hotels, owners and brands increase profits and build financially engaged leadership teams.
David speaks at hospitality company meetings, associations and he has had several financial leadership articles published in hotel trade magazines and he is the author of two books on Hospitality Financial Leadership. David is a Certified Hotel Accounting Executive through HFTP and a Certified Professional Coach with CTI.
For a complimentary copy of my guidebook on creating a finically engaged team in your hotel head over to my website, www.hotelfinancialcoach.com and don’t forget to email me firstname.lastname@example.org for any of my free hospitality financial spreadsheets.
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