When was the last time you were crystal clear to your counterpart about the expectations you had about him/her?

I believe that in general, we make too many assumptions in our business collaborations. Whether that is between colleagues, in a team or between organizations; we often assume that our counterpart understands the expectations we have for us working together, and we think we understand the expectations of our counterpart. However, more often than not, we fail to validate those assumptions.

With assumptions without validation, we have a breeding ground for future failure or frustration in the collaboration. If you are in an area in the world where business slows down during the summer months, then now might be a good time to schedule a meeting to (re)validate your expectations.

Sit down together with your counterpart and have a good conversation about your joint expectations. Ask open questions, like for instance:

  • “What do you expect from us working together?”
  • “Where do you want our partnership to be in 2 years from now?”
  • “What do you expect from our company to contribute to this partnership?”
  • “What do you expect from me as a member of your team?”

Do validate your understanding of the conversation. Check with questions and use a whiteboard or a flipchart to support your discussion. Writing it down and making it visible always enhances the understanding for all involved.

Remember the Contribution Matrix? It can be a useful tool to get you going. Redo the matrix together and address possible differences you experience. Clarity of expectations and open communication ensure a good foundation for fruitful partnerships.

I believe these conversations can be enlightening and fun even. So, I am curious to hear about your experiences: do let me know how it goes!