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The Law of Eternally Rising Expectations


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Old 6th September 2006, 1:09 PM   #1
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Question The Law of Eternally Rising Expectations

When I was responsible for conducting performance appraisals for staff, one of the beefs I had with upper management was the constantly rising expectations that the staff were expected to attain.

For instance, if one particular staff member had an excellent sales quarter, their performance was marked high for that. So far, so good. However, that excellent quarter automatically became the benchmark for subsequent appraisals. Often, through no fault of their own, they didn't meet the new higher standard, or if they did there were other issues that offset their gain (not keeping up with paperwork, etc.)

Do we do this in relationships too? When our partner wants a higher standard of, say, romance, and we work like the bejeezuz to give it to them, does that not raise their expectation level so if there's one slip, all that work goes to hell?

Or, for instance, if a partner agrees to take on 50% of the household chores and works like a bear to follow through on that, but the romance department diminishes because the partner in question is just too tired from scrubbing/cooking/cleaning/whatever, what happens to the expectations?
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Old 6th September 2006, 1:52 PM   #2
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[QUOTE=superconductor;908650]When I was responsible for conducting performance appraisals for staff, one of the beefs I had with upper management was the constantly rising expectations that the staff were expected to attain.

For instance, if one particular staff member had an excellent sales quarter, their performance was marked high for that. So far, so good. However, that excellent quarter automatically became the benchmark for subsequent appraisals. Often, through no fault of their own, they didn't meet the new higher standard, or if they did there were other issues that offset their gain (not keeping up with paperwork, etc.)
[QUOTE]

I find this part more interesting then the relationship comparison part you posted. So I'll ramble/rant about this!

Where I work this is standard policy as well, and it slowly burns out and demoralizes employees and drive them off to other jobs. You can only push people so far, especially if they are not being rewarded accordingly. I can't count how many people I've known in the last year who've gotten divorced or seperated, because their jobs are working them continuously - and firing those who don't. This type of thinking is so prevalent in so many american companies. Did you know that americans have officially passed the japanese in average hours worked per year. No longer is the Japanese salary man looked at as crazy, but it is us americans that are now crazy. I think it's total crap that the workforce here behaves like this. Work / Life balance is nearly gone for most people who work in professions like doctors, lawyers, marketing, software developers etc. I definitely think we are heading down the wrong road by encouraging this kind of working behavior. There's more to life then living at the office all day and night - because you're employer knows you need your job, so they takes advantage of that.

What is the solution? I don't know if I see a resolution to this issue - but I know it is really driving alot of people into depression, poor health, and endless frustration that they aren't good enough, if they don't work the 60+ or more hours per week like their fellow employees. The company I work for actually encourages people not to take their yearly vacation time, and they will reimburse them for it at the end of the year - and this is not the first company I've worked for that behaves in this manner. Those that end up taking vacation usually come back to work and are looked down upon, and shunned by other employees and bosses who think that they should have cashed in their vacation like everyone else.

Thoughts anyone?
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Old 6th September 2006, 2:18 PM   #3
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I'd heard about employees being discouraged from taking their annual leave in the US, but I didn't really believe it was true. That's pretty outrageous really, leave from work is so important. You just end up with burnt out and dissatisfied employees. What's the average annual leave allowance in the US?
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Old 6th September 2006, 2:22 PM   #4
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Do we do this in relationships too? When our partner wants a higher standard of, say, romance, and we work like the bejeezuz to give it to them, does that not raise their expectation level so if there's one slip, all that work goes to hell?
YES!!! YES!! YES!

That's exactly what'll happen, and it'll destroy a relationship......fast!

That's why lists and expectations shouldn't be made. We should be content with what we have.....after all, we made the choice to spend our lives with our partners.

We chose that person for WHO they are, and not WHAT we can make them do.....

I have nothing against working through problems in a relationship to ensure each person is getting what they need from the other.....but to assign expectations with a penalty will kill the deal EVERYTIME....
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Old 6th September 2006, 2:27 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by britchick View Post
I'd heard about employees being discouraged from taking their annual leave in the US, but I didn't really believe it was true. That's pretty outrageous really, leave from work is so important. You just end up with burnt out and dissatisfied employees. What's the average annual leave allowance in the US?
2 weeks is pretty much the norm.

I just read that productivity is way up for American workers and wages are not.....
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Old 6th September 2006, 2:28 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by britchick
What's the average annual leave allowance in the US?
In most organizations in the US and Canada, an employee gets two weeks, increased to three weeks after 5 years of uninterrupted employment.

Pretty miserly, I know, but it's all part of the conservative short-sightedness that seems to be prevalent.
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Old 6th September 2006, 2:31 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Blackfrost View Post
What is the solution? I don't know if I see a resolution to this issue - but I know it is really driving alot of people into depression, poor health, and endless frustration that they aren't good enough, if they don't work the 60+ or more hours per week like their fellow employees. The company I work for actually encourages people not to take their yearly vacation time, and they will reimburse them for it at the end of the year - and this is not the first company I've worked for that behaves in this manner. Those that end up taking vacation usually come back to work and are looked down upon, and shunned by other employees and bosses who think that they should have cashed in their vacation like everyone else.

Thoughts anyone?
Fascinating topic, might I say.

IMO it's not just about the culture of the American workforce, but our expectations within society as a whole - for immediacy and convenience at all times.

When I was in Italy over the summer, albeit in a small town about 1-2 hr. train ride from Rome, I laughed about the lack of convenience. At siesta time, everyone closed down. The whole TOWN would close down for holidays, even the supermarket. People didn't expect or demand that they have access to all the services that they wanted to 24 hours a day.
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Old 6th September 2006, 2:46 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Blackfrost View Post
What is the solution? I don't know if I see a resolution to this issue - but I know it is really driving alot of people into depression, poor health, and endless frustration that they aren't good enough, if they don't work the 60+ or more hours per week like their fellow employees. The company I work for actually encourages people not to take their yearly vacation time, and they will reimburse them for it at the end of the year - and this is not the first company I've worked for that behaves in this manner. Those that end up taking vacation usually come back to work and are looked down upon, and shunned by other employees and bosses who think that they should have cashed in their vacation like everyone else.

Thoughts anyone?
The company you describe is a company that wouldn't be worthy of my time and skills.

And as far as being 'shunned' for taking vacation time... yep, I've seen that and quite honestly I couldn't care less. I do not live for other people's expectations and if I choose to take vacation time that is my business. If the stressed-out dude sitting next to me doesn't like it then sux to be him.

I dunno... it's a cultural thingy, I suppose. This 'need' to compete for and achieve the so-called 'American Dream' - have the fancy-schmancy car, the fancy-schmancy house, the trophy spouse, the oh-so-wonderful kids, you know... all that bull. Popular culture really makes those things look appealing. what popular culture conveniently leaves out is what you have described - an overworked, stressed, saddled with debt, depressed, demoralised, and bitter workforce. And for what? To 'fit in'? To be a 'sheep'?

The simple solution to this is to start thinking of yourself as an individual who lives for YOU - not for the job, boss, coworkers, etc. YOU. Do what's right for YOU - not what's right for society and its expectations.
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Old 6th September 2006, 2:51 PM   #9
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I laughed about the lack of convenience. At siesta time, everyone closed down. The whole TOWN would close down for holidays, even the supermarket. People didn't expect or demand that they have access to all the services that they wanted to 24 hours a day.
Ha, sounds like northern rural Minnesota.... On Sundays, there are towns were there is absolutley NOTHING open... If you need something you better get it the day before or your outta luck or have to drive to the next town that might have a gas station open..
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Old 6th September 2006, 8:34 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by superconductor View Post
In most organizations in the US and Canada, an employee gets two weeks, increased to three weeks after 5 years of uninterrupted employment.

Pretty miserly, I know, but it's all part of the conservative short-sightedness that seems to be prevalent.
That really isn't a lot. In my last few jobs I started on 28 days, in my last job this went up to 32. This doesn't include carers leave for parents which is about 5 days per year. Oh, and a lot of companies here insist you take it. You poor sods.
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