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Expectation: Motivator for Success or Failure

( How managers set and reinforce expectations determines the motivation levels of associates.
Max Dupree, ex-corporate CEO and contemporary management philosopher, is quoted as saying, “my father instilled the greatest discipline in me – he trusted me. He set expectations and trusted I would meet them. By doing so he showered me with respect and I had no choice but to live up to his expectations.”

In today’s fast-paced world, managers are engaged in pursuing marketplace potential at a fast pace. As a result, they are often forced to engage organizational stakeholders in work activity that is ambiguous, complex, and often beyond the current capacity of associates to perform. Therefore, managers routinely set expectations beyond current associate capability hoping associates like Max have the commitment and self-discipline to stretch and achieve them. Unfortunately, these expectations are often not met. This leads to frustration, unresolved conflict, conflict avoidance, excuse generation, etc., all of which erode positive working relationships, instill a culture of fence sitting, game-playing, and micromanagement (source material for Scott Adams’ Dilbert Cartoons).

Complicating this reality of organizational life are studies that indicate management communities typically don’t listen to or recognize the value added of associates. Some studies indicate over 80% of managers spend their time directing and judging and as little as 20% coaching and mentoring. As a recent Gallup survey revealed: 13% of employees are truly happy, 63% are not engaged, and 24% are actively not engaged.

Poorly communicated expectations and constant judgmental, situationally-directed behavior from managers generate and sustain an organizational environment of apathy, cynicism, and hostility. Collectively, these attitudes and behaviors progressively lower associate motivation and over time, promote organizational entropy and business enterprise death.

Successful managers recognize that the communication and reinforcement of expectations are critical influences on business enterprise capability and potential for success. They flip the 80/20 rule. Successful managers spend 80% of their time listening and building mutual respect, clarifying work assignments, coaching performers, and reinforcing the value of organizational stakeholders. They monitor and control by making expectations a shared responsibility. Their focus is to engage organizational stakeholders in collectively setting expectations and using continuous learning to instill the confidence and capability to embrace change. For these managers, expectation is the catalyst they use to empower organizational stakeholders to be accountable and committed. They engage stakeholders in setting expectations and using continuous learning to achieve, excel and sustain value creation for the greater good.


INNOVA Group is a business consulting firm, in business since 1986, specializing in Leadership Development, Project/Process Management, and Organization Development.

For more information visit:

Company Name: INNOVA Group, Inc. Contact Person: INNOVA Group Email: Phone: 919-792-3968919-792-3968 City: Raleigh State: NC Country: United States Website:

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