The Expectation Test

I got a phone lying down on road. Since I could not unlock the phone, I waited for the owner of the device to call. A couple of hours later, he did call and in his opening sentence started pleading to return it back. Even though he was the rightful owner of the phone, he expected me to never return it back to him.

I was stuck in a traffic jam caused due to BWSSB(Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board) closing a very small section of the road to fix a sewer. This was on an afternoon on a main road in Bangalore and no wonder, there was a traffic pile up for close to 3 kilometers. I cursed myself for taking that road instead of some other alternate route. I did mentally spew venom at the people digging the road, but it never occurred to me to hold the authorities accountable for this and expecting better from them.

The curious case in both the incidents is the expectation of the people involved in them. Even though the right thing to do when you find something that is not yours is to return it back to the owner, people nowadays expect that not to happen. It is the responsibility of the government to execute it’s task in such a manner that it causes least annoyance to the citizens but we no longer expect that from our administration. If things do happen the right way, we are mesmerized and think of ourselves as lucky, it does not occur to us that this is how it should be. This is not a good sign because when expectations hit rock bottom, it becomes the norm and from there it is a vicious downward spiral.

The same is true for organizations as well. Holding people to higher expectation and making them accountable for it is the key to success. If in an organization, you are happy that your team members are not taking impromptu leaves, there is something really rotten. There is nothing stupendous about people not taking unplanned leaves, this should be the norm and if someone following this norm is an aberration in your organization, then this a warning signal to you that there is something deeply wrong which needs immediate fixing.

A test for any organization to see whether it is on the path to greatness would be the expectation test. Mentally go through your expectations from employees/company and see whether these are really higher expectations or something that should have been the norm. If these are expectations that breach the bar, well and good, if not, do a reality check and fix them.