Anticipation vs. Expectation

psychics-1026092_640It was mid-October when I received the call. On the other end of the line was a manager whose tone told me he was not happy. “Something is wrong with my scorecard,” he said. “You need to get it fixed right away.”

Like many organizations, our company utilized a monthly performance scorecard to track a variety of sales and service metrics at a variety of levels. My team assisted managers with developing strategies for growing their business. We provided training, created job aids, and reported on the progress made toward goals. The scorecard document was our baby.

I opened the file in question and listened as the irate manager pointed out the cause of his frustration. All year long, his scorecard had reflected stellar performance. Sure, they were down a little month over month, but still well above goal. Things had been going so well that he’d stopped worrying about even looking at the report. Why waste the time when you’re ahead? But that morning, a member of his staff had taken a look at the document and noticed that the team’s performance had suddenly dropped. In fact, they were suddenly below goal and in danger of missing out on year-end performance bonuses. Since every month up to this point had been above goal, something had to be wrong with the report.

As you can see from this sample graph, the team in question had indeed been above goal for each month through August. What they didn’t account for, however, was the downward trend in performance. Focused exclusively on the current month’s production, they’d failed to anticipate the disaster looming in the fall. This was no reporting error, it was an error in judgment.

Top performers aren’t content with being ahead of goal. They are fueled by a need to stay there. This drives them to look ahead. They scan the horizon for future opportunities and potential setbacks. They definitely celebrate specific achievements, but they know they can’t assume today’s win guarantees tomorrow’s victory. Had this manager been paying attention, he would have noticed the slow decline in sales volume and been able to anticipate the eventual drop below goal. More importantly, he would have been able to do something about it.

Anticipating setbacks isn’t the same as expecting them. Victors anticipate bums in the road and create a plan to overcome them. Victims expect obstacles and adopt them as excuses. The difference is a simple matter of perspective and mindset.[Tweet “Anticipating setbacks isn’t the same as expecting them.”]

Once this manager understood what was happening with his scorecard, we turned our energy toward developing a plan to overcome the setback. We identified some underlying causes for the decline in sales and wrote up a strategy for his team to implement over the remaining two and a half months. Armed with the right information, and a game plan, he was ready to execute.

So, how does your performance look at this point in the year? We’re half-way through 2016 – are you on track, or do you need to play catch-up?

Don’t let the dog days of summer find you napping. Even if last month’s numbers were stellar, take a look ahead. See if there’s something lying just around the corner that maybe you haven’t been anticipating. Take advantage of this opportunity to shore up your plans for the next six months, and commit to finishing strong. Anticipate the worst, expect the best.


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