CFAES Give Today
OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Communiqué September 12, 2012

Clarify Expectations - Behavior #9 of High-Trust Leaders

Keith Smith, associate vice president, Agricultural Administration and director, OSU Extension

“Almost all conflict is a result of violated expectations.” -Blaine Lee, author of The Power Principle

To Clarify Expectations - is to create shared vision and agreement about what is to be done up front. This is one of those behaviors that people rarely pay attention to. Stephen M.R. Covey calls it the behavior of prevention, because if you focus on this one up front, you will avoid heartaches and headaches later on. In contrast, if you don’t pay the price with this behavior up front, you will have trust issues later, and they will affect speed and cost.

How often do people get off track on a project because leaders have not been sufficiently clear in describing the right path? How much “poor performance” is really due to lack of clarity around what is expected? And what is the effect of all this on trust?

Clarify Expectations is based on the principles of clarity, responsibility, and accountability. The opposite of Clarify Expectations is to leave expectations undefined – to assume they’re already known, or to fail to disclose them so there is no shared vision of the desired outcomes.

Unclarified expectations are one of the primary reasons for broken trust, because violated expectations almost always get translated into trust issues: “You didn’t come through.” “You didn’t do what you said you’d do.”

Here is how to make clear expectations happen:

Learn to quantify everything: What result? By whom? By when? At what cost? How will we measure it? How will we know when we have accomplished it? And when and to whom is the accountability – both in terms of benchmarks and end results?

In most circumstances, it’s wise to look at three variables – quality, speed, and cost – and realize that you can usually pick any two, but not all three. For example, if you want high quality and you want it fast, it’s usually going to cost you more. If you want it fast at low cost, you’re probably going to give up quality. If you want a quality product and a low cost, it’s likely to take longer. It’s almost always a choice: to get two, you have to give up one. Understanding this helps in clarifying expectations and understanding the trade-offs involved. However, there is one transforming variable that can alter this trade-off equation, and that is high trust. When the environment of trust is strong enough, the achievement of high quality (value), high speed, and low cost becomes a realistic possibility.

When you communicate with others, recognize that clarity is power. One way of checking to see if your communication has been clear is to “check for clarity” by asking a few simple questions:

  • What have you understood from this conversation?
  • As a result of our interaction, what do you see as your next steps?
  • What do you see as mine?
  • Do you feel that others are clear regarding expectations?
  • What can we do to make things more clear?

The next time you have a project at work, create a clear project agreement in advance. If you’re in charge, call everyone together and encourage them to express any ideas and concerns. Work to come up with a clear agreement that is realistic and represents a win for all stakeholders.

New Templates for Brochures, Newsletters and Flyers

Updated templates are now available on CommTech’s Resources page. Find templates for each program area at The new versions give more space for content and are available in Word and PowerPoint.

Post Your Extension Videos on YouTube

CommTech has created an OSU Extension professional YouTube channel at Here you can post your Extension videos on a branded site that links to other official channels for CFAES, OSU Extension and OARDC.

Videos must meet the following criteria:

  • The video must be an original made by you. This is an OSU Extension channel and we want it to feature great content created by our experts.
  • You must own the copyright to every part of the video. This includes both music and images. YouTube now checks for copyright violations. If the video is flagged for a violation, we must be able to provide proof that we have proper permission. If we can’t provide proof, the video will be deleted. Music that comes from a production music library or a royalty-free music site is okay; music you would hear on TV or the radio is not.
  • Along with your video file, you will need to write a title, description and keywords that will help a search engine find your video.

To add a video to the channel, fill out the “Add Video to YouTube” form at the bottom of CommTech’s homepage at

21st Century Leadership Series

These professional development opportunities are open to current and aspiring leaders interested in increasing their leadership knowledge and skills. Held on the Columbus campus, our leadership series are designed with relevant solutions to current leadership issues. Certificates of participation are available for individuals seeking professional development hours. For the list of classes visit:

Celebrate Research in October

Two events will be held at the university regarding research. An expo of more than 50 exhibitors will be held October 2, 9:30 am to noon at the Great Hall meeting room in Ohio Union will be open to all. The exhibitors will include (research centers, institutes, core laboratories, and campus vendors) come and learn about the programs and services available to support your research.

The State of Research Address and Innovator of the Year Awards will be held October 11 at 8:30 am at the Wexner Center Film/Video Theater. More information about both events is available at: