In our last article, we talked about respect. One tenant of respect is to exceed expectations – always give people more than they bargain for. Companies who do that stand out. Zappos comes to mind. They deliver shoes…but they deliver them about as fast as anyone anywhere delivers anything. And then if you don’t like the shoes, you can send them right back with their easy return process. If you call them, you are greeted by consistently friendly customer service representatives. It is a great customer experience.
If you are in the service arena, you know that competition is as tight as it’s ever been. If you expect to survive, you must exceed expectations.
So if you exceed expectations, you will be respected, right?
You see, there’s a second tenant, and that has to do with staying true to your values.
Your values may include faith, family, health, and personal development.
But if you spend too much time and energy exceeding expectations in your work, those values could begin to be compromised. This is a challenge business owners face on a regular basis – the challenge of balancing expectations and maintaining values.
The ironic twist is that you can exceed expectations so much that instead of gaining respect, you actually begin to lose it. Those who once appreciated you, now – perhaps unwittingly – take advantage of you.
If this is where you are in your working relationships, consider it a danger sign. You must establish boundaries and hold firmly to them. You will be tested, but if you hold firm, your clients will eventually respect them. If they don’t, frankly, they are not your ideal clients.
In an employment situation, if the boss tends to dump work on you at the end of the day as he or she goes off to attend a child’s ball game, it may be a sign of disrespect. Staying until midnight every night doesn’t earn the brownie points you may think. But it could wreck your family life.
Here’s the bottom line: work hard and give it 110% whatever work you do…but if your boundary is to finish by 6 pm every day and not work weekends, then leave the office at 6 pm. Period.
I realize that, for many, this is easier said than done.
Let me offer these four steps to setting boundaries:
1. Be very clear to your boss or clients ahead of time what your boundaries are.
Be reasonable, of course, and considerate of their boundaries as well. It is a matter of respecting the boundaries that are needed on both sides.
2. Take responsibility for determining what needs to be done and offer a reasonable timeframe for doing it.
Always allow a cushion for obstacles. Take into account that those who don’t do details may think it only takes five minutes to do something that actually takes five hours. Idea people will have more ideas in one hour than could be carried out in a week. If you try to do them all, you could go insane. There is probably a special wing at the asylum for those who work for the extremely high “I-wired” folks among us! You will need to assess the assignment and work with the boss or client to determine priorities. You may need to delegate some of the work in order to get it done. Be very careful not to over-commit. Under-promise and over-deliver.
3. Practice saying, “No.”
You don’t have to explain every “no”, either. Just politely but firmly say it. Yes, you will feel guilt and fear. But you will also start to feel respected.
4. When it is time to stop, STOP.
Don’t let perfectionism, pressure, fear, or guilt keep you chained to your desk while your values erode away.
As you read the complimentary e-book How Leaders Gain Respect, look at it as a balancing tool for gaining respect – not only that of others, but self-respect as well.
For additional help in this area, click here to access the replay for 3 Myths That Will Sink Your Business Faster Than You Can Spell T-I-T-A-N-I-C. In this episode, my guest Andrea Feinburg, talks about her own personal experience in finding balance and establishing boundaries.