TrekAcademy


Lesson 008: Key to success - meeting expectations
TV Series: Star Trek - The Next Generation
Season/Episode: 6/10 ('Chain of Command Part I')

[Scene]

Capt. Jellico takes command of the Enterprise while Capt. Picard is away on an undercover mission for Starfleet.

From the beginning, Capt. Jellico is unrelenting in making demands of the crew in a very strict and unyielding manner. As the crew tries their best to adjust to the new Captain's methods and demeanor, Capt. Jellico quickly sees Riker as the foil to his efforts.

In one instance, Capt. Jellico orders Riker to launch a probe at a certain time before arriving at their destination. Upon arriving at the destination, Capt. Jellico, while sitting with Capt. Picard, asks Riker (over the com system) if the probe had been launched yet. Riker responds in the affirmative and states that he didn't realize Jellico wanted to be informed about the launch.

Jellico displayed to Capt. Picard his dismay at Riker's lack of professionalism and failure to follow-through by not notifying him of the launch previously.

[Lesson]

This one interaction between Capt. Jellico and Riker exhibits one of the fundamental mistakes made by both staff and management whenever they are in a new relationship, either with new management or with a new client.

Predicting the reactions of another person takes time, experience and diligent observation.

When a new Manager or new client requests a certain task to be performed, it is always in the best interest of the task-performer to get, not only a clear understanding of the task requirements, but more importantly, the most clear and concise understanding of the requestor's expectations for the assignment.

Quite often these two items, task requirements and assignment expectations, are very different from each other. While the task itself may be deemed quite uncomplicated and easily achievable, it is always the expectations of the requestor that must be managed properly and receive the greater attention.

Not meeting expectations will always lead to some degree of failure.

Sometimes, the expectations may be quite low and involve nothing more than perhaps just a timely weekly status report; sometimes, they can be quite substantial and involve presumption of underlying understanding, unsolicited actions, undefined perks or benefits the requestor is expecting along with the task delivery.

Regardless of the degree of the expectations, failure to meet them will always cause disappointment for the requestor and a disappointed management or client is never a good thing.

It may seem unfair, even unjust, that Capt. Jellico should admonish Riker for not informing him the probe had been launched, especially since Capt. Jellico never requested such an alert as part of the probe launch task.

Given the disposition of the new Captain, Riker should perhaps have been more proactive and taken the extra step of inquiring if the Captain wanted to be informed of the launch in the first place.

However, having failed to meet undeclared expectations, complaining and whining over the issue will benefit no one, least of all, the one complaining.

Management and especially clients have no mandates to be forgiving in these instances. So, instead of being defensive, we need to use these occurrences as learning opportunities.

Through observations and direct querying, we begin to form the correct modus operandi for our new management or new client. Then, going forward, we are able to predict and satisfy their expectations, even when they are not stated directly.

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