Dear Sharon – June 2019

Q. Our business is super busy these days, but despite the good economy, we’ve had more than our fair share of unique challenges this year. In my opinion, as a long tenured leader, customer expectations has reached an unattainable performance level. It’s almost like they want something that doesn’t exist!

While I understand giving great performance, it is to the point where I’m not even sure how to deliver. This has really impacted my team…despite working their tails off, they are feeling like failures. I’m concerned that I won’t be able to keep them motivated and feeling confident. I’m curious if you’re seeing this in the marketplace as well, or if it’s an isolated incident?

A. You are not the first person to share this. I think overall expectations of performance is at an all-time high and everyone is feeling the stress; including your customers. They are surely pushing you because their customers are doing the same thing to them, and so the cycle goes.

Our impact as leaders comes in many forms. As it relates to the customers, setting early expectations on delivery helps.  It’s pretty easy to over promise and under deliver with how busy everyone is; so, an honest, candid conversation early on helps with setting realistic expectations.

As for the team; as the leader goes, so does the team. Our teammates are really bright people…if you’re stressed and feeling pushed, they can’t help but feel the same way. While I always hated the commercial, “Never let them see you sweat”, I certainly can appreciate the analogy as a leader. Our job is to encourage, motivated, appreciate and emulate the behaviors we want in our teammates. This is so much easier to say than do…especially when you experience a string of disappointments. Finding a good outside council to vent your frustrations may be a good alternative.

Trust me, I know how hard this is…we all struggle with this when times are challenged. Rest assured, tough times don’t last forever, but tough people do.

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