Beating The Christmas Blues: Set Expectations With Good Communication

There’s no question that the Holiday Season is the most wonderful time of the year.  However, it’s not without its own challenges—especially for leaders.  Whether it’s leading an IT department or coordinating a tense family visit, Jeff Van Fleet, Lighthouse’s President and CEO, advocates addressing them head on.

The Holiday season is upon us, and although it’s a magical time of year for most, it can be very challenging for many.
I hope that, no matter what challenges you’re facing, you keep them in perspective, balance them with the other aspects of your life, and feel whole.

I hope you are well and fresh off a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends.  The Holiday season is upon us, and although it’s a magical time of year for most, it can be very challenging for many.  Whether it’s missing a loved one, preparing the kids for the annual visit to weird Uncle Percy’s, coordinating all of the Christmas shopping and activities, or finishing the year with strong sales and preparing for 2018, my wish for you is that you don’t allow today’s challenge to become your life.  I hope you keep it in perspective, balance it with the other aspects of your life, and feel whole.

Personally, I think a lot of our challenges come down to communications and clear expectations.  And as leaders and parents, we have a lot to do with that.  Whether we lead teams of one or 1000, it is our responsibility to define the vision, set the goals, and challenge the status quo.  We must rally our teams so they believe in the vision and want to achieve the goals.

Take a moment right now and think about what aspect of your life you want to focus on.  Is it your work team, your relationship with your spouse, Christmas preparations, a church committee, a school project, or a relationship with your children or parents?  Pick one thing, get it clearly in your head, grab a pen, and let’s play with it.

  1. What vision do you have for this team/relationship?  Take a moment and write it down.
  2. What specific goals do you have?  Again, write them down.  Keep them as specific as possible and in fact I’d recommend using the SMART principles. Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Results-focused , Time-bound.  You can find more detail on them here.
  3. Who is on your team?  List each team member/stakeholder that you interact with to accomplish your goals.
  4. What expectations do you have of them?  Write them down and be specific.  Your team members want to know what you need—and you need to ensure they understand that.  If you are working with a group, capture the common expectations for everyone on your team as well as individual expectations you have for each stakeholder.
  5. Try to understand how to best communicate with each person on your team.  To do this, you need insight into how each of them process information.  There are many personality tests that can help you do this.  One of my favorites is 16 Personalities—it’s free and fun!
  6. After you’ve captured the data you need, it’s time to take action. If you have common expectations for the entire group, meet with the group first to explain the vision, goals, and common expectations.  These are often the same from project to project, and they form the building blocks of the organization’s culture.  They include things like: informing you immediately when something unexpected occurs; if you have some time on your hands, offer to help out a teammate; and, everyone provides a weekly status report.  It’s all about fostering a team-oriented mindset, where everyone succeeds or fails as a team.
  7. Once you’ve met with the whole team, it’s time to get personal.  Meet with each individual and share your specific expectations for them.  In doing so, you’ll need to decide if those expectations are negotiable.  I recommend presenting them in written form, reviewing them with each person individually, asking them to repeat back to you what you want (and when you want it), and then asking if they believe they can meet them.  Be very clear that you need them and expect them to deliver, but also let them know that they can come back to you at any time with questions.

With expectations set and buy-in achieved, you know you can expect your teammates to live up to their agreement.  As you know, something always goes awry so allow yourself and them some wiggle room to deal with the unexpected.  Ya never know how weird Uncle Percy may be acting!

I hope you find this helpful and I’d love to hear how you set expectations and ensure good communication.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the changing weather and prepping for the Holidays!

Keep having fun,

Jeff Van Fleet
President & CEO
Lighthouse Technologies, Inc.
Software Testing | Quality Assurance Consulting | Oracle EBS Consulting

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