Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Managing Expectations

Digging deeper in the Toolbox, What are the Alternatives?

Communicating expectations is perhaps the greatest culture-related challenge in the global Korea facing workplace. Repeatedly, I witness a gap in what is “expected”  and what is delivered, but before I share more…. 

In working with western and Korea teams and management, I listen carefully for questions raised in mentoring sessions and the concern that surface. I then probe to get a clear understanding. This week’s topic surfaced recently. 

With regard to expectations, how for example Americans tackle a request and how Koreans would handle a request varies considerable. In the West, teams look for clear and defined objectives and goals. They then work diligently and responsibly to deliver within a set timeline and prepared to the pre-agreed parameters.

Similarly, Korea teams plan and execute, but with one difference.  An unspoken “Expectation” in Korea is that the team also look beyond the narrow and defined scope of the request and provide some “alternatives.”  This providing of alternatives for management to consider is not voiced or communicated, it’s just a norm in the Korean workplace. 

This said, in several recent mentoring sessions with both Korean leadership and with teams, the subject of alternatives came up…. in both cases work as requested was well done, but the Koreans had hoped to see some options. 

In one of the cases, the Korean team member newly assigned to local operations was puzzled--assuming work preformed would include some suggestions, too, and preferable “out of the box.”  

I explained that most of the local team was highly specialized and long time, seasoned employees used to providing specific data and reports as requested.   

Frankly, they were not often called upon to look beyond the scope of a request, or even asked for suggestions. 

I recommended in all the cases that when assigning a task or request, the Korean leadership and teams that as a deliverable they would like to see if possible some “out of the box alternatives”.   

I, too, recommended, this be a message the share often !!!

In the next episode, I will reveal more about the “Why” behind Korean teams and leadership looking at “alternatives.”  

Interested in how I work with companies? Stacey, my personal assistant at can coordinate a time for us to chat. 

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