Setting Expectations in Finance | FP&A Fridays

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This is a podcast episode titled, Setting Expectations in Finance | FP&A Fridays. The summary for this episode is: <p>Setting expectations is a crucial part of every job, but let’s talk about why it’s perhaps even more important in Finance. On this week’s episode of FP&amp;A Fridays, Rowan, Chris and Glenn share their thoughts on setting expectations when starting a new role, leveling expectations with your partners in the business, overcoming misaligned expectations, and more.</p>
Whose expectations do you need to set, how frequently, and why?
02:16 MIN
Setting expectations in a new role
03:10 MIN
Leveling expectations with your business partners
03:20 MIN
Calibrating a shared reality
02:25 MIN
Overcoming misaligned expectations
03:04 MIN
Never make assumptions
02:27 MIN

Rowan Tonkin: Hi, I'm your host, Rowan Tonkin, and welcome to Being Planful, the show for FP& A leaders and planning experts. Hi, everyone. Welcome back to FP& A Fridays. I'm joined today by Chris Ortega. Chris, new gig, the VP of finance over at Unsupervised, and Glenn Snyder. Welcome, guys. Happy Friday.

Chris Ortega: Let's go. Thanks for the shout out, Rowan.

Glenn Snyder: Yep. Hi, everybody.

Rowan Tonkin: So tell us just really quickly, Chris, tell us a little bit about Unsupervised.

Chris Ortega: Yeah, so Unsupervised, I'm really excited about the opportunity to come join the team. We're based in Denver, Colorado. And basically we provide AI and machine learning tools and technologies to help B2C marketers really drive and focus your revenue, migrate costs, or manage risk inside your business. So if you know any B2C marketers that are looking for a technology partner that really, really leverages AI and machine learning to help you drive revenue and reduce costs, we're the company that you should be looking for.

Rowan Tonkin: Well, I'm unfortunately in the B2B space, so don't send me any tests of your messaging my way, but I certainly know some people on the B2C side. All right guys, well, today should be a really fun conversation. We're going to be talking about setting expectations. And I think this is a really important part of every job, actually, but I think it's even more crucial of finance, due to its cyclical nature and due to the reliance upon folks like yourselves that have so much expertise that you need to teach in many cases to other folks. And so when you're setting those expectations, it may be around time, it may be around skills, it may be around actual numbers, but also when you're doing that I think you need to help educate folks. And something we talk about here is raising the financial IQ of the business. So, really interested to hear many perspectives. I'm going to play the role of the business in this conversation and you guys obviously bring all the finance domain expertise. So firstly, Glenn, I'd love to start with you. When you're thinking about your role in FP& A and setting expectations, whose expectations do you need to set, and how frequently, and why?

Glenn Snyder: So, I'm going to rephrase that and whose expectations don't I need to set, really? Because FP& A, as we've talked about, touches everything, every aspect of the company, and you have to set expectations with everyone you're working with. And this isn't just an FP&A thing, this is pretty much in any job. You should be looking to set the right expectations with anybody that you're working with. So, I look at, first and foremost, your CFO. He's the guy or she's the woman who is paying your salary. You got to make sure you're setting the right expectations with him or her to make sure that you are going to achieve the things that need to be achieved for finance. But you also have people who work for you in the FP& A team. They have expectations about how they're going to build and grow their careers, how they want to learn and engage with the business. And then you also have people like you, Rowan, who are the business partners, who you are interacting with, that you have to help those business partners achieve their goals and you have to set the right expectations for them. And finally, there's a fourth constituency there, one that we talked about on a few podcasts ago, which is our strategic partners, the accounting group, the HR group, the IT group, the people who are providing you with information. You need to set expectations with them as well. So really just 360 degrees you have to be looking at setting expectations. And the one thing I would say is when you set expectations you have to remember the objective here is to achieve and exceed those expectations. If you just go in to say," I'm going to do what people are asking me to do," you're not really going to make an impact and you're not going to help the business move forward. You got to be thinking about how do I go above and beyond, but you got to set those expectations that can be achieved. You don't want to set yourself or your team up for failure. So it's very important to make sure that you are not setting some aspirational goal that you will never reach, because that doesn't help anybody. But you also don't want to set your expectations too low, that it's so easy to achieve it's kind of like," Yeah, whatever, I'm expecting you to do that anyway," because then no one's really going to be impressed or thrilled with the work that you're doing. So you got to find that happy medium there.

Rowan Tonkin: Yeah. I think to your point there, Glenn, you've got to find the middle ground. It's really important to have a vision, of course, a vision and goal setting, and then increment your way towards that vision, I think is really critical. Chris, I imagine you are doing a little bit of this right now. You're what, week one, day five into a new gig? And I'm sure your new boss probably has expectations of you, and you're obviously working, doing your job to go out there and set expectations of others. Tell us a little bit about your purview into expectation setting.

Chris Ortega: Yeah, Rowan, you hit upon the point, man. I'm day number five into it. And for me, it's been really three key pillars that I focus on is engagement, empowerment, and execution, and how I set that with the business. But one thing I'm really taking a step back on is this is what I've learned in my career. I think earlier on in my career, I came in, it was like, here's what I'm going to do, and I was really, really hard pressed in doing it. Where I'm spending my time now is what are those expectations in the business just right now? So I'm just learning baselines of how the sales leader has previously engaged with finance, or how has marketing previously engaged with financing their other opportunities? So a lot of what I'm doing, in part, of setting my expectations is not even me telling them," This is what I'm going to bring. This is my skills, passions, and talents. This is what I'm going to do." It's about what do you think I'm supposed to do. I had the opportunity to talk with a lot of employees in different elements of the business and I had a call with a salesperson today. And then I asked her, I said," Hey, help me. Give me some understanding about how you... What were the rules of engagement and expectations that you've had with finance in the past?" And she was like," Well, Chris, that's a great question. I never had a finance person ask me how I worked with other finance people." And part of me doing that is like, there's one way of coming into an organization and taking everything that you've learned in the past and just saying, I know what it needs to be done. Here's what it needs to be, blah, blah, blah, blah. But I'm kind of going to spend my first two weeks, maybe even my first month, to just understand what are those rules of engagement, what are those rules of empowerment, and what are those rules of execution inside of my organization? And some of those, like with my manager, first conversation we're going to have in our one on one, we're going to talk about that, is like I need to know what my rules of engagement are. Where am I empowered to make decisions? When do I need to engage with people? And when do I need to execute? And then, what role do you want to have in each of those aspects of it? So I think it's a balance, man. And to me, I'm starting to really learn in some areas I need to let time kind of just show those things in the business and that pattern recognition, what we were talking a little bit earlier about, outside before this started, is seeing those patterns and just saying, okay, I know at some point we're going to have to be more scalable and more... very, very fine in these processes. And some of them, I have to be a little bit more. So that is really the lens in terms of my expectations that I'm setting this, trying to know when they'll engage, when am I empowered, and when do I have the ability to be able to execute? And also understanding it from the other person's perspective about how they've engaged, how they've empowered, and how they've executed with finance. So it's definitely a delicate balance, and that's really what I'm striking for and what I'm really in the trenches of right now.

Glenn Snyder: Rowan, if I could add to some of the Chris... Chris, you absolutely nailed it. When you're working with a business partner, the number one thing I think you have to do is ask them," What are your needs? How do I help you? What do you need from me?" And sometimes they can answer the question, sometimes they can't, but that has to be the beginning of the conversation. So when it comes to setting expectations with not just your business partners, but this can also apply to your CFO, this can apply to your employees and so on, ask them what they are looking for and listen to them. You might not be able to do everything that they ask for, but at least you have their wish list. And now you have a path forward on how to set those right expectations for what you're going to be able to achieve over the next whatever it is, three months, six months, a year, whatever.

Rowan Tonkin: Yeah, it's really interesting. Chris is at a great inflection point, right? Because he's just come into a business. I know it's an early stage startup, so there probably wasn't this role before, probably. So not only is it a new role, people have probably are all new to the company. It's a pretty new company so there's a lot of folks coming and they've got expectations from their old businesses. How have they worked with other VPs of finance before? How have they worked with other finance teams before? And so that expectation setting for him right now is really important because it's setting the framework, it's setting the ground rules for how are we going to work on this together as a group moving forward? I think for many listeners, they maybe have been in their roles for a long time. I've been in my role for just over two years. And so the expectation setting is actually recalibration consistently." Hey, there's a new change in our business. I have to make you aware of that, I have to make you understand what that new change is. And here's the impact, and here's how I'm going to reframe your expectations as to what we need to do now." And I think, to me, that's probably the most important part of expectation setting, is actually working with people when expectations should change. Because we may have an agreement, Chris, now, right? When you just joined, you're the VP of finance, you and I come to an agreement as the head of marketing, this is how we're going to work through a budgeting process, this is how we're going to do things. At some point, there might be a new change to the business. You might receive more funding, you might receive... Something changes. Now you've got to recalibrate with me, I've got to recalibrate with you. Expectations have now changed. This is the new way of working because of some event, some change in the business, whatever it may be. There's all sorts of things that could make that. And I think that's the thing that people miss the most. We always come into jobs and we always generally do a reasonable job of setting expectations with folks. It's just when things change, we're not calibrating frequently enough. And I think that's the most important thing for me to take away from this conversation, for listeners, is expectation setting is not a one time thing at all. It could be triggered by a specific event. Those trigger points could be very different from month to month, year to year, but it's also cyclical too. There'll also be significant changes maybe at a new fiscal year with new budgeting in place, or new resources come into place, those expectations change. Glenn, talk about how you come and set expectations with someone like me, like those... your business partners. What expectations are you setting, and what expectations should we be setting of you? And I can jump in maybe with some of mine.

Glenn Snyder: Sure. So the first thing is you don't... Setting expectations isn't a task list. Let's just make sure that that's clear. There are things that need to be achieved. So the first thing that I always look for is number one, what do you need from me? So my question, Rowan, you're my business partner. I'm going to start off and say," Okay, what do you need that you're not getting today?" And that's the first question. The second question is," What am I doing today that needs to change? Are you receiving a report that doesn't work for you? Do you need to meet with me more often?" Those types of things. But the third thing that we also have to talk about expectations is how we interact with each other. That is not a set deadline or anything, this is about how we engage. It's the expectation that we should have a monthly one on one, or a biweekly one on one, or a quarterly one on one. It's the expectation that I should be a part, as your finance business partner, be a part of your leadership team so that I'm engaged and I hear firsthand what's going on when you're talking to your directs. Or you say," Uh, you know what? I want more of a separation. I'm not comfortable with that." Where is that boundary? Those are the expectations that I really want to understand. So I'm going to first start by posing those questions to you. And I want to hear your responses before I get into," Hey, here's the way that I think we should work together." I want to hear from you to make sure this isn't about me and what I want, it's about what we and we want.

Rowan Tonkin: Yeah, and that is the crucial aspect of expectation setting is it's a mutual understanding of how people work together, regardless of whether it's top down, manager to direct report, or direct report to manager, or side to side relationship, or side and down. It's truly just making sure that here are the guardrails, the frameworks that we have in place in how we succeed as a group. And I think that is the most important aspect of this whole conversation, to your point, Glenn. It's how are we going to be successful together and what do we need to put in place to do that? And once you can get that clarity, like, for example, I may say to you," Glenn, I expect you to be on all my team meetings." And you're like," Rowan, you have 16 meetings a week. I don't have that time." Right? And so setting that expectation to say," I can't do that." How can we find a way to overcome your obstacle, which is you may not have the time? And so that, I think, is really just the key here. We've talked a lot on this podcast about the communication, opening communication, creating transparency and trust, and expectation setting is a framework to do that. It's saying" Here are my boundaries, here are your boundaries, here's how I can help you, and now let's have a conversation about it." It's actually a great opening for those great conversations to set ourselves up for success.

Glenn Snyder: Rowan, if I can add one thing, just to remember that on both sides of the table, you and I might be having this conversation, me as the head of FP& A and you as the chief marketing officer, but we manage teams. And sometimes those expectations, you may say," Hey, I want you at these 16 different meetings every week." And I'm going to say," Hey, I understand that, but I'm going to need to delegate and bring another member of my team in. Someone from finance will be there." And that's a way to offset that. And remember, you don't have to do everything yourself, because everyone's part of a team. And you've got to remember that it's about getting the team goals and the team to achieve things rather than just an individual. And I think that's one of the things that even though the initial response might be," Whoa, I can't do 16 meetings a week, bro. And you're crazy," that's not going to help. Instead it's," Hey, you know what? Let me go over and bring someone on the team, and they could start getting to know your business. And I could leverage this person to attend those meetings when I can't be there."

Rowan Tonkin: Chris, how big's your team?

Chris Ortega: Me? The team right now?

Rowan Tonkin: Yeah.

Chris Ortega: And part of it, just to add, being a team of one, like coming into it and being exactly what you mentioned, is like coming in and there were... I've seen this playbook plenty of times and maybe the listeners out there right now, you're that external accounting partner that is part of it and you got this VP of finance coming in, which is a whole nother... There's so many different expectations. And what I call the breakdowns of expectations are not everybody has the same shared reality of what they're doing. That reality is not the same. If you're an external accounting partner and now you're coming in and now you have to work with this new VP of finance at this company. And now you're a VP of finance and there was never finance to the level of your level. It's just, to me it's playing out so many different ways. And it's like, you have to be as a leader in setting expectations and knowing it's when is the right time to do that and when it's not. And when is it to be proactive and then sometimes you got to be like, man, you just get those reps in in the conversations to figure out where you're like, okay, now it's time for me to go into that. And I think making sure, whether you're working with an internal business partner, external business partner, board, or whoever your partner is, one of the key things that you can do to make sure those expectations are aligned is making sure you all share that shared reality, you all see the same reality. Because what I can already see, and a lot of people make the pitfalls and I made the pitfalls as well, is you don't have that same shared reality. Somebody thinks a different way of what you think about it. And you guys thought you have the expectations aligned, but that reality has changed. And now you, to what Rowan said, you got to go back through and build that, you got to find that equilibrium and calibrate to say," No, no, no, man, you're here, I'm there. But reality, we need to find ourselves here." So I think really making sure that you enforce, check in, and calibrate on that shared reality, definitely make sure expectations continue to be solid and partnerships continue to be strong.

Rowan Tonkin: I think to share some something, it's so important to document that shared reality, because if you don't you end up in a place where I thought I had a conversation about my reality with Chris and Chris had a conversation with me about his reality and we may not have been listening to each other, and guess what? We walked away still talking across each other and if we were building a tunnel, the tunnel would never meet in the middle. But if we document that shared reality and we document those expectations, then two things happen. So number one, we have a record of what that reality should and agreement should look like. But even if we don't agree, then what actually happens is we start discussing the document and we don't end up shouting at each other or getting caught in crossfire of just my opinion versus Chris's opinion, or whatever that may be. We then start trying to solve the problem that exists inside of a document. And I think that's really, really important for people when they're doing this expectation setting. It's actually something that we've talked a lot about, career progression, right? That is an expectation that you have with your manager or with your direct report, and guess where most people go wrong? It's all conversational and it's never documented. And why do we do that? Well, because we don't want to put something down in writing that we may not be able to meet, or we may not be able to do this. But if you keep a living, breathing document then everyone understands where things are. And that's not true of just career conversations, but it's also true of any big initiatives that you're working on. Some people follow OKR models, other people follow V2MOM or VCSM, there's all sorts of different strategic initiative models that exist in the world. And one of the key things that they do is actually get you to document everything, and that's so that that agreement comes out. Glenn, when you're thinking about some of those challenges that Chris talked about, that I was mentioning, how do you bring up that expectation management, or where expectations are misaligned? I'm sure this has happened to you in your career. It's happened to me hundreds of times. Oh, I thought the expectation was this, because we never documented anything. In your experience, how do you try and overcome those misaligned expectations? Because unfortunately it's never perfect.

Glenn Snyder: That's true. And the biggest errors I probably ever had in my career were all around miscommunication. And that's the number one thing, how do you minimize that? Well, documenting things is important, but it doesn't have to be a formal Word document and people are signing it," Yes, I agree to this," or whatever. Full overkill. Maybe something simple, like a follow up email." Hey, we just had a great meeting. Thank you. Just want to confirm. These are the takeaways that I have," and you bullet point the three or four things that are out there, what those expectations are, that type of thing. And you send that over to say," Hey, here was my take on the meeting." And when you do that, you are now putting those key items listed out in writing and you're sending that over to your business partner, your manager, whoever it is that you're communicating with, and you're making sure it's spelled out. Oftentimes, they will come back and say," Yep, looks great." It's very simple. Or they come back and say," Oh, you know what? Let's add this other one on there as well." And now you have that document that you've come together on and you have that agreement. So to me, best practice is after any meeting, after any phone call, whatever it happens to be, send a quick follow up email with a summary of what you went over. By the way, for all of you people out there who maybe are new into your careers, one little piece of advice. Always, always walk into a meeting with a pad and pen, or pencil or whatever, because when you're in the meeting, what I've actually felt, I fell into this myself, because for me, whenever I'd write something down, I remember, I never look at my notes. I can't tell you how many notebooks I have filled with stuff. Never once do I have to go back and look at it. But it's when I don't write something down, that's when I forget it. So, the other thing is to make sure you go into any meeting, take notes, just scribble it down, then after the meeting you go back, got your list of things that happened. And then you type it up in a follow up email and said," Hey, are we on the same page? This was my read, do you agree?" And that is, to me, the easiest way to get alignment. Now, doesn't mean things don't change as they go, and Rowan you maybe brought this up before. Things come up and you have to reset, and that's okay. But when those items occur, like you have to go back and do a little reset, you have your starting point and say," Hey, you know what? Items three and five on that list, yeah, okay. Those don't make sense anymore. Let's go and take those off. One, two and four, great. But let's go and redo three and five and make it now this thing over here because it's how the business has changed." And it helps that conversation as well. So to me, it's that follow up email. And the other thing is don't make that email a three page document, no one's going to read it. Keep it simple." Hey, here are the top three, four, five things." Try not to go over five. Keep the bullet points to one to two lines at most, preferably one line, so that people could read it really quickly and say," Yep, I'm in alignment," and it's nice and simple.

Rowan Tonkin: Yeah, that tip of always having a notepad and pen, not only if you're not taking any notes, it looks like you're taking notes too. So really, really important. And the number of times you do go back to it is... I know you said, Glenn," Ah, I never go back to it." But you do because you go back immediately when you're trying to type that email or when you receive the email and you say," Hang on, was that what was said there??

Glenn Snyder: That's true.

Rowan Tonkin: And for those of us that are constantly on Zooms, Zoom recording is your friend because then you have transcripts and you can control find and look for stuff. It's really hard to take notes on Zooms, I find, because you're always struggling there, so I just record them. Chris, you are currently, obviously, in this mode of expectation setting. You probably haven't misaligned any expectation setting because you haven't had any time. Or maybe you've walked in thinking that there were expectations of you, and people have in your kind of inquiry process that you're doing. What have you learned as you go through that inquiry where it's like, I assumed people would have this expectation of me and they don't have that at all, they've got a completely different expectation of me. And just by asking the question," What's your expectation of me?" you've learned something completely new.

Chris Ortega: Yeah. Yeah. For me, one thing I've learned in coming into any new roles, or even in a role right now, is never make any assumptions. So for me, assumptions are the worst things that you can make in terms of really good connection and expectations. Because when you make an assumption, you make a ass out of you and me. And me coming into this, one thing that I've done before even coming into my role is I had an opportunity, I looked on LinkedIn and I seen other people that were at the Unsupervised organization. I reached out to them and I just connected with them, because I know for me, part of that expectation that I wanted to walk in day one was I wanted people to already feel like they already seen me before. I didn't want them to feel like," Oh, who's this new person that just popped up?" Because I know how startup and scale up companies go and I know it's not the most robust and laid out processes and it's not like I came in day one, it was like" Chris, here's what you're 30, 60, 90, first week's going to look like." I already knew I was going to be building off crosstalk

Rowan Tonkin: You didn't have the welcome mat rolled out for you?

Chris Ortega: Yeah. I had none of that, none of that was there. I didn't come into it with expecting that it was going to be a welcome email and here's all my security accesses and here's all your tutorials and here's... No, I didn't come into it with that. But one thing I wanted to do was, I said, I don't want my first day being the first time people see or hear or interact with me. So I was proactive and said, I'm going to reach out to people and send them a nice, customized LinkedIn message to say," Hey, I just wanted to connect with you. I'll be joining on later on this month. I'll be your VP of finance. I'm really looking forward to connecting with you." And when I did that, I had my first all company meeting, and it's my opportunity, and the CEO introduced me to everybody on the team. And I seen in the Zoom chat, everybody was like," Oh man, it's so great to put a name with the face now, Chris. I seen your LinkedIn, I seen your background." So I was already forming of like people connecting with me through LinkedIn and seeing my background and seeing the podcast that we do and all the content that I do out there. So they already were forming what their expectation was of me. And then they get to meet me in real life and I'm introducing myself and I told them about my boxing and some of the things I'm doing. And instantly afterwards my Slack conversation was like, everybody was like," Dude, I was not... You and your background, I was not expecting those to match up." So now what I have done in the business, I created this curiosity of" Who is this dude? He looks this one way and is LinkedIn, and when you see him and talk with him, it's different." Not to say that was my objective, to set it. But now I've got people curious about," Oh man, that's something different." And" I've never worked with a finance person like that." And" He seems like a salesperson." And now people are forming their own things and they're reaching out to me and scheduling time to talk with me because they want to know more about that sort of piece of it. So I think when you can find that opportunity to be proactive about being transparent, here's who I am, here's... Another thing I've done with the leadership team is I've shared to them my prescriptive index, which is basically looking at my behaviors, my motivator and drives. And I did that for day one. I was like," Guys, if you really want to know what motivates me, what is true to who I am, what my communication style is, what my management style is, here it all is. This is 100%, a three page read. Everything you want to know about me is right here in this document," and that kind of piece of it. So I think when you can find those ways of getting feelers out to let people form their own expectation of you, now they've got a baseline. And then you get that opportunity to connect with them, now that you either confirm that expectation, and now you're already like 80% of the way there. Or you drive that curiosity about it and now people want to engage deeper, to deeply understand your background, your skills, your talents. And to me, I think that was really something that's been really valuable to me, accelerating that expectation- setting in my first week.

Rowan Tonkin: I really love that. We probably should have an episode of how to start a new job, because there's some great tips there from Chris, I think. Number one, reaching out before you even start, if that's an opportunity for you, 100% do that. Sharing your prescriptive index, I have psychometrics, which I share with my team and new starters on my team, which is like, this is how I work, this is my ways of working, this is what you're going to get from me, and this is what you're not going to get from me. This is not how I like to manage or lead or whatever that may be. I think one really interesting topic before we finish this conversation on expectation setting is what's a bad expectation? I think they exist all the time, and I'll start. The worst type of expectation is an uncommunicated expectation. They exist everywhere. Glenn, I'm going to pick on you because you're a baseball. There are so many hidden baseball rules that nobody knows about that only baseball people know about. And I'm like, I'm new to baseball and I watch it and I'm like," Who knew that was a rule?"" Oh, it's not a rule, it's an unwritten rule."" Well, why don't they make it a rule?"

Glenn Snyder: Because it's not good enough to be a rule, really. crosstalk Actually, one of the first times I took my wife to a baseball game, I remember we were watching a Yankees game and they're out here playing the A's. And I said," Watch Derek Jeter when he walks to the plate. He's first at bat. He's going to take his bat and he's going to tap the shin guards of the catcher and the umpire. It's just a way of showing respect." And she was like," What? Why would someone do that? How is that respect by hitting someone in the shin with a bat?" But it was just, it was what was brought up over here. So 100% agree with you, because one thing I could tell you is uncommunicated expectations are rarely met. So, if you have certain expectations, make sure you are communicating them to who you are expecting that work to be done or that relationship you built out, or whatever, because otherwise they might not be on the same page. To me, a bad expectation is one that can never be achieved. Because it's one thing to say," Hey look, we're at point A, we want to get to point B." But if your expectation is to get to point Q, nobody even knows where that is, it doesn't make any sense, all you're going to do is fail. And setting people up to fail is one of the worst things you can do. It demotivates people, it gets to be very frustrating, you do a lot of work that goes nowhere. So, to me, a bad expectation is one where you cannot achieve the goal. You might be, the directional stuff is okay, and say," Look, we're going to try and be the best finance software company in the world." Okay, fine. Best is subjective. That's like a mission statement. That's a different thing. But when you say an expectation is to go over and say," I'm expecting the sales team to do 10 x what they did last quarter," sales people are like," What are you kidding me?" You're setting them up for failure. So, to me, a bad expectation would be something that is just yeah, great, but we're never going to get there, because it's just immediately demotivating.

Rowan Tonkin: Yeah. Unrealistic motivations was on my list below uncommunicated expectations. Uncommunicated unrealistic expectations are probably the worst ones ever.

Chris Ortega: That's the worst, though. That is the worst. That is the worst. And nobody wins when the family loses. And Rowan, if I would add what my worst expectation is, I think like... And I've had my chance to encounter this in my career. I think the worst expectation you could have as a leader, as a listener, and all the people listening to this podcast right now, is taking on a expectation that is not your true north. And I'll share a story with the group. So I remember early in my career when I was at Ernst& Young, there was an expectation around a lot of accounting auditors at the time that you were expected to not leave until the manager left. You were expected to work 90 hours a week and use it like a badge of honor. You were expected to, after you were working 18 hours with the team, and you would go do social things with them. You were expected to do anytime a partner needed anything, you would be on their beck and call. These were the common expectations that if you wanted to be successful you had to take. And I seen a lot of my peers and my friends doing that. And I was like, that's not my true north. You know what I'm saying? That's not true to who I am. So I'm not going to accept that. Now, earlier on in my career, I wanted to fit in. I chalk this up as being young. I wanted to be like, I didn't want to be the oddball, I wanted to be cool with everybody. I wanted to fit in. I wanted to be part of the crew. And honestly, I sacrificed a lot of who I was. I was working super late, I was not eating good, I wasn't working out, I was constantly tired. Me not following my true north and following these not true north expectations, for me, it got me in all kinds of trouble. And I stopped and I said," You know what? No, I'm not going to do that. If I'm done with my work, why am I going to stay over and just spend this time? I just spent 18 hours with you all. No, I'm not going to go out for drinks and go bowling with you all. And partner, if you need some coffee, go walk your ass over there and go get some coffee." So, for me, I understood that these are expectations people are trying to have of me that I know are not my true core competencies. I know I'm not going to be able to do it. So to the listeners out there, man, don't be afraid to say no to something that is not true to who you are. Now, did I go there and say," No, I'm not doing it because this is not my true north, I'm not staying over?" I said," Hey, what is the measurement of success on this? You want me to be a great auditor, right? My work quality's top. I'm delivering on the expectations you have for me to do a great job and to serve our clients, correct?" He's like," Yeah." Then I'm like," That's all that matters. It shouldn't be any expectation because I'm doing that, that I should go do this." So, to me, I think those kind of expectations that you feel pressured or you feel are not true to core to who you are, that you feel you have to accept, that just sets everybody up. On the other person's side, setting that expectation for you, it reinforces probably an unconscious bias that they have. They have some unconscious bias in their head and then you accepting it continues to reinforce that that's what they're going to be doing. And it's not good for you because you're constantly going to be at odds of what this expectation is for you. You know what I mean? And I think to me, honestly, looking back over my career, and as I continue to progress, man, it's like, I am always going to be my true north star. And listen, some people are going to rock with you and some people are not going to rock with you. It is not for you to decide the people that don't rock with you, you should change yourself. You are not always going to be somebody's cup of tea. And I think really making sure that you have that understanding of self, that understanding of what you bring to the table, and being confident in your skills, passions, and talents, that's what separate us. But to me, man, that has been one of the most dangerous, bad expectations.

Glenn Snyder: Let me add to that a little bit, Chris, because I'm going to twist yours a little bit. A mistake I made when I first started managing people is I expected people to do things the way I did them. Because as a manager, you're like," Oh, I was just in that job. Here's the way I did it. Look, now I got promoted. I expect you, employee, to do it the same way." That is an awful expectation of somebody. Let them be themselves, let them find their own way, let them come to you and you can help guide them. But don't hold them to your standard and the way you do things, because they're a different person and they take different approaches. So Chris, 100% agree with what you said, but it also works, you got to be thinking about that as a manager, that you're not going over and saying," Hey, I work this many hours, or I do these types of things, or this is the way I build my Excel models, therefore, employee, my expectations are you're going to do it just like me," because that is an awful way to manage people.

Rowan Tonkin: Yeah, 100%. I think there's sometimes often cultural expectations too, right? Like you may be working for a company where there's a cultural expectation that something happens. And that, to your point, Chris, maybe misaligned with your expectation. That sounds like that environment was almost Japanese in culture. You don't leave until the boss leaves, and so people just end up staying at the office until midnight, even though they've already done their job, but there's just this cultural expectation that is imposed upon you. They feel very much like unrealistic expectations as well. Someone asking you to be someone that you're not is unrealistic. And I think that's really important that you just say," Well, actually that's unrealistic of me to be someone I'm not, so I'm not going to be that person," which is... That's probably a whole other conversation too. Gents, it's been a pleasure. FP& A Fridays, yet again. I think this was a fantastic conversation. For those listeners here, think about the expectations that you are setting on others. Think about the expectations that are being imposed upon you, or being asked of you, and calibrate those with folks. This is a really good reminder to say, what are the expectations that I need to meet, others need to meet of mine? And then really think about that, because I think this is a great topic and something that we should come back to a little more frequently just as individuals, is where are my expectations at right now, from both sides? So thanks, gents. Have a great weekend, and look forward to speaking next week.

Glenn Snyder: Thank you, guys.

Chris Ortega: You're the man, Glenn. I miss saying that, man. You're the man, Glenn.

Glenn Snyder: crosstalk


Setting expectations is a crucial part of every job, but let’s talk about why it’s perhaps even more important in Finance. On this week’s episode of FP&A Fridays, Rowan, Chris and Glenn share their thoughts on setting expectations when starting a new role, leveling expectations with your partners in the business, overcoming misaligned expectations, and more.