Setting Expectations
a tool for clear communication

The Gist

  • Setting expectations with others is one of the most effective tools of getting things done,
  • These do not need to be inflexible, as
  • They represent points of reference,
  • Help create an agreement between individuals, an
  • Bring balance to relationships.

These can be used in may types of agreements.

  • Timelines
  • Actions
  • Effort / Scope of Work

Why does this matter

Failing to set proper expectations, or any kind of expectations results in frictions with others. Therefore, in the workplace, they are essential.

In personal relationships, expectations are mostly implicit, and not every expectation needs to be made explicit, but some can definitely benefit from naming these out.

Setting effective expectations

Setting expectations is a habit, and setting effective expectations requires deliberate practice.

It is one of the hardest skills any leader or partner

It is probably one of the hardest skills to cultivate.

The Coaching Habit’s 7 Questions

The Book (read it)

The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier


  • Coaching is a habit
  • Habits are hard to change
  • Good coaching requires deliberate practice
  • These seven questions help coach effectively (a Socrates like method of asking questions that help individuals reach solutions on their own).

The Questions

  1. What is on your mind? (The kickstart question)
  2. And what else?
  3. What is the real challenge here for you? (The focus question)
  4. What do you want? (Foundation question)
  5. What do you want from me? (Lazy question)
  6. If you say yes to this, what must you say no to? (Strategic Question)
  7. What was the most useful here for you? (Learning Question)

Take Aways

Rules of thumb

  • The answers are within, we need to find them, and help other find them
  • Do not take responsibility of others
  • Focus is key
  • To change a habit identify:
    • the trigger, (the hardest thing)
    • the behaviour that needs to be replaced with a new behaviour, and finally,
    • the reward

As a lead, help team members

  • address their concerns
  • dig deeper into the challenges they face, help see them for what they really are
  • get to the point
  • understand the desired outcome
  • ask for help
  • understand the tradeoffs
  • get feedback