Removing the Guesswork


Boo!  Hope you had a good Halloween.  On that note, I have been thinking that sometimes, the element of surprise is not necessary.  While many of my coaching newsletters focus on adjusting to the natural surprises that life will undoubtedly bring, I find eliminating some of the unnecessary “un-knowns” just as helpful.

One of the most prevalent fear-based concerns people have is their performance, usually in relation to their job, but also with relationships in general.  While most people I speak with are doing amazing things at their job, they are often unsure of how their work is seen, if they are doing “good” and if their supervisor and colleagues are happy with their performance.  I supervise three young employees and one of them is constantly asking me “how am I doing?”  While the other two don’t ask for as much feedback, I have a deep suspicion that they would like to know when they are doing great and what doing “great” looks like.  I know I do, and I too have experienced this fear.  I would worry that no feedback meant that I must have been doing something wrong, or at the least, that my supervisors were expecting something different from me.  Without transparent expectations set, or clearly outlined markers of success, we are left to guess; Is what we think is “good,” the same as what our supervisor’s thinks is “good”? This constant guessing can lead to anxiety.

Solution?  Ask for it.  It’s sometimes called “managing up” when we call a meeting with our supervisors and ask them to help us identify clear markers of success.  We also might want to do this with our friends, family, and partners.  I sat with a group of women a week or so ago and the concept of the “5 Love Languages” (take the test!) came up.  This test is simply a tool to understand clear markers of success in our personal relationships.  What one person counts as a “good” or “loving” act, another person might dismiss completely and in turn the “good do-er” is left surprised that their partner is seemingly unappreciative of their loving act.  The idea of “what counts” comes up a lot in relationships.  Taking the time to clarify with the people we interact with most and answering the question, “what does success look like to you?” can lead to increased levels of satisfaction and reduce the fear of surprise we might be experiencing, wondering if we are about to get a raise or a reprimand. 

Ways to Clarify & Increase Transparency:

At Work: Ask your supervisor ‘How am I doing?’  Ask the question: ‘What is working well right now?’  ‘Do you have any goals for me that I am not aware of?’  ‘When will I know that I have really hit a home run?’ Ask for as many specifics about markers of success as you need to feel like you have clear expectations and goals for yourself.

At Home: Ask your partner if they feel supported.  Ask the question: ‘What are we doing well?’  ‘When do you feel the happiest in our relationship?’ ‘What’s the best way to show you that I love you?’  Take the test!

With Friends: A simple, ‘What’s your favorite thing about our friendship?’ can give us some really good information.

*With Ourselves (especially around the holidays): Get off autopilot and ask yourself, ‘what would a successful holiday season look like?’  ‘How much time do I want to spend traveling, cooking, cleaning, visiting, shopping, ect… ‘Who do I want to spend time with?’ ‘What will make me feel “successful” this season?’

Anyone come up with any surprising answers? I would love to hear back.