Last week I had a conversation with a manager who was feeling disconnected from her work. Why? As she was reviewing the organizational goals handed down by her supervisor, she realized that they were totally unrealistic. It was clear that whoever penned these goals did not understand what would be required to achieve them. She felt demoralized and helpless.
In their excellent book, Connection Culture, Michael Stallard and his colleagues report that one of the common refrains of employees working in a disconnected culture is the sentiment: “There were unrealistic goals and expectations.” I’ve heard some form of this from so many managers that I’ve lost count. Unrealistic goals have a negative effect on employees’ engagement and the overall culture of the organization.
How do unrealistic goals do this? Through the feelings they create. Feelings are a form of implicit knowledge; they carry information within them.
Consider this statement from the American poet Maya Angelou:
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel.
There is a deep truth here that holds for relationships within organizations as well. Employees will remember, above all, how their leaders and organizations made them feel.
Unrealistic expectations create negative feelings, and thereby decrease engagement, productivity, and connection. When goals/expectations are unrealistic, people generally feel...
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