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How I Avoid Disappointing a Boss, Customer, or Spouse/Partner

Has this happened to you: Your partner, boss, or customer made a request. You worked intently to meet their request. Later, you learn they were disappointed in you, your work, or the outcome.

Have you experienced this? It might go as follows:

(email message from partner, boss, or customer) Hey Matt, set up a meeting for the team, let’s brief the team on the new reporting format you designed.”

Matt sets up the meeting. Outlook invite blast sent.  QUESTION: Is Matt completely clear on what the meeting expectations are?

(meeting day) Matt’s meeting is missing a few key people (the boss, the boss’s boss, both included in the Outlook invite blast). He calls them… they attend via. web.  He reviews the new reporting format, which involves some technology changes. Some attendees can follow. Some can’t. In the end (after a few weeks of one-on-one training between Matt and meeting attendees), everyone is in compliance.

(mid-year review) Matt’s boss marks him down on the “new report format” project and meeting outcome. “You didn’t have the key players in the first meeting, in person. You didn’t make the technology aspect clear. You took 60 days beyond the meeting to ensure everyone was in compliance.”

Remember that original email from Matt’s boss?  “Hey Matt, set up a meeting for the team, let’s brief the team on the new reporting format you designed.”

Was the original email actually a vague task/goal that instead needed specific outcomes clearly defined? That original email was vague, wasn’t it? And now, Matt gets poor marks because his boss didn’t understand how to hold his team accountable with particle-level specifics.

When we hear, “The leader matters.” This is an example of that phrase actually mattering to outcomes. And, that leader can be you, a spouse/partner, a boss, customer… anyone that we are attempting to be useful for.

Because, when we think WE met expectations, Often, we didn’t meet someone else’s “version” of the same expectations. This can feel like a real curveball to our heart and mind.

Who was off course?  Matt or his boss? Has this happened to you?

HBR wrote a GREAT article on preventing costly mis-communications like the one above and achieving team accountability in 5 steps.

I call things like this, “Apollo Steps:” The right things, in the right order, at the right times (no degree, MBA, or fancy title required). 

BUT, how do we discover what the Apollo Steps might be? Ask questions. This is the “Q&A Decisions” Factor in action. Had Matt’s boss, or Matt, asked his boss questions based on the vague email, it’s likely the outcomes each person was working towards would have been much more aligned.

I have found using the Apollo Steps  and Q&A Decision Factors can avoid disappointing people and move our Productive & Human meter more into the green!

Get the 5 steps in The Right Way to Hold People Accountable HBR Tip here.

Elements: Action

How I Avoid Disappointing a Boss, Customer, or Spouse/Partner​ (free)
How I Avoid Disappointing a Boss, Customer, or Spouse/Partner​ (free)


A Success Additive to be More Productive & Humane​ (free)

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