The Eighty Percent

If it’s required to deliver hours as part and parcel to the employment bargain, then pass. That is, if they will not budge off this requirement, then decline their offer. Then, ensure your career plan (primary position, secondary position, supplemental positions, etc.) is up-to-date, based on the assumption that their paradigm of requiring you to deliver hours will interfere with your broader career plan.

Last updated on January 2nd, 2019 at 06:32 pm

An observer’s opinion about a firm’s executive officers, posted on

“In my view, the company is being run by dolts who are flailing around, looking for answers, and not knowing anything that Hobbes has presented here.

They will want more than 40 hours a week from you. Don’t sell it to them. Start a side business.”

Ask around about hours per week that managers are expected to deliver. If it’s over 40, tell them you are content in your present position.

Philosophical Basis of Harry’s Point of View

“When everyone is on one side of the boat, I’m going to be on the other side.”

– Jim Rogers, in a recent interview on Russia Today. This is Rogers’ solution aligned with the Pareto Principle. And, as Gen. George S. Patton said…

“When everyone is thinking alike, no one is thinking.” [To paraphrase.]

Comparison of Points of View

“In my view, the company is being run by dolts…”

Concur. They are on the “safe” side of the Management Boat. Pareto Principle applies. They are the 80%.

“…who are flailing around”

Concur. There’s a lot of “reacting” now occurring on that side of the Management Boat. And probably some amount of panic.

“…looking for answers”

Concur. The CEO has now motivated the executive team to look for answers. I suspect that to date, they’ve found common safety in collectively/mutually not taking significant risk. The old metaphor about the “the nail sticking up” is probably very popular within the firm, probably resulting in individual personal emotional conflicts. But the Pareto Principle applies. When push comes to shove, they will jettison collective safety, individually try to be in the 20% (the other side of the boat), and at that point, it’s “every man for himself.”

“…not knowing anything that Hobbes has presented here.”

Well, they certainly do not appear to be practicing it, as evidenced by their results, as stated in [the thread originator’s] posts, above.

“They will want more than 40 hours a week from you.”

They surely will. IF they are on the “time spent” side of the Contribution Boat. As contrasted with the “results” side of the Contribution Boat. (Where Jim Rogers is at.) Saying this another way, using the Value Formula (Value = Benefits – Cost), if they view time spent as a component of “Benefits,” rather than a component of “Cost,” which it really is, then they value time spent. This opinion will be validated if they are observed spending lots of energy focusing on the amount of time people spend at work, rather than the results people achieve.

“Don’t sell it to them.”

Concur. Do not, under any circumstances, allow your employment bargain to put value on time spent. Rather, time must be considered a cost (because it is), and the bargain must be based on results, which is a benefit (to the firm and to you). That is, your employer must agree to base your role, goals, and your compensation on results, and stay out of your knickers when it comes to time spent. (You’re a big boy now, and perfectly capable of managing your own time.) Will they try to base it on time spent? Yes, if that’s their paradigm, and if that’s what they value; and if time spent is the premise to their approach to work; and if they think of that expenditure as a benefit. But, if you are on the other side of the boat, the side that focuses on results, you will not accept their premise; in theory nor practice.

Here’s an interesting way to approach this issue: If you have one side business, then you actually have two businesses: your “day job” and the other business. One may require more attention than the other, and this usually translates into spending more time in one than the other. But the time spent is each is merely a function of the amount of attention each business requires. Attention, not time.

“Start a side business.”

Concur. Use this employment bargain as the source and pilot for your “product/service offering” for that (or those) side business(es). Get paid to design and implement working solutions that you then take to other clients in your side business. Remember, you own what’s in your head. You can take that anywhere you wish. (Just ensure any employment bargain does not place restrictions on your ability to do this; time or otherwise.)

“Ask around about hours per week that managers are expected to deliver. If it’s over 40, tell them you are content in your present position.”

If it’s required to deliver hours as part and parcel to the employment bargain, then pass. That is, if they will not budge off this requirement, then decline their offer. Then, ensure your career plan (primary position, secondary position, supplemental positions, etc.) is up-to-date, based on the assumption that their paradigm of requiring you to deliver hours will interfere with your broader career plan. Their requirement will come back around shortly.

Should they accept your declining their offer, and leave you in your current role, then use it to build skills and expertise that you transfer to your other business(s). (This includes showing them how to do what you have done, but with none of the risk of heading up an SBU. But, your 40 hour limit must remain a term and condition of your current employment bargain.)


Did you notice that above, I separated “expect” from “requirement?” Then, I addressed the requirement(s), not the expectation.

I did this purposefully, for a very good reason:

Expectations are thoughts, that reside in someone’s head; and common expectations are common thoughts that multiple people share. Expectations originate in “cultural norms,” not facts. (E.g., “I expect…” is not driven by facts; it’s driven by my “cultural experience.”) And as cultural norms, they are wholly subjective and subject to unending after-the-fact interpretation. Expectations (i.e., cultural norms) come with a mental model of compliance criteria, as thoughts in the head, along with the thought that is the expectation. (E.g., “You did not meet [my criteria in my head].”)

The Eighty Percent

“It’s just like a social disease. IT’S EVERYWHERE!” – Comment heard through the wall from the next hotel room, wherein several female sales types where unwinding (boisterously) one evening in 1978.

What the lady meant was that it permeated 80% of the crowd she ran with.

Today, in American business (and other bureaucracies), management by expectation – with the associated implication – is rampant. Call it the 80% behavior.

So if we want to be in the effective 20%, how do we deal with cultural norms that are being injected into an employment bargain after-the-fact? How do we meet expectations if they reside in someone’s head? And they are based in cultural norms? We can only know, when the person with the expectations renders judgment, after the fact, about whether or not we did what was “expected.” That is, there are no upfront objective compliance criteria associated with expectations.

And how do we comply with criteria that’s in their head, or not consistent with our cultural norms; the cultural norms of the 20%?

Here, we thought we signed on to do a job, and be compensated for results, rather than be compensated for our participation in someone’s cultural activities.

Management By Implication

Their inherent subjectivity is why “expectations,” and the actions implied by expectations, are an important tools for manipulation, and why they are used by manipulators.

At the root of the behavior of people relying on expectations, and implied action, is their seeking safety; their not taking the risk of going on record and definitively stating what they require of you. It’s safer for them to expect things of you, and imply that you should do something, and then Manage (you) By Implication by telling you, after-the-fact that you did or did not meet their expectations. Expectations are a key component of Management By Implication.

So, because they are avoiding risk, if you require that they state a requirement, you may very well experience all manner of behavior that will resemble that of teenagers going through puberty: histrionics, borderline hysterics, feigned anger, brow-beating, thinly-veiled threats, etc. All exhibited to cause you to cease and desist from causing them to take the risk of stating their requirement action. AS being required.

Think of it this way: When they state requirements, they take the risk of managing you. When you accept expectations, you take the risk of managing you. (But, either way, they continue to get paid for that role.)

Or better yet: compensation flows with requirements met (i.e., performance), but not with expectations met, nor action implied.  That is, there ain’t no such animal as “Pay For Expectations.”

Once a party subjected to expectations becomes convinced that meeting someone’s “expectations” (cultural norms), and taking action that is implied is the appropriate standard of performance, that party is effectively operating “off-contract;” for free.

However, effective managers, with the wisdom and objectivity that comes with effectiveness, will have no problem taking the risk of stating requirements, and shunning implication.

Requirements Rule

Requirements, by definition, are objective, in that they are explicitly stated, upfront, can have objective evaluation criteria (i.e., metrics), can be documented, and accomplishment can be measured objectively. But more importantly, a fully developed requirement serves to identify the un-achievable and the unenforceable, which can then be dealt with appropriately. Requirements are found in contracts, usually stated as Terms and Conditions; or Standard of Performance.

“Expectations” – cultural norms – are not in contracts. They can’t be included because they are subjective thoughts, and both thoughts and cultural norms in contracts are not legally enforceable. Implication is sometimes found in poorly crafted contracts, varying interpretation of which often result in litigation.

Implementation (Or, “It’s their Monkey”)

So how does a manager who relies on expectations and implication, who really wants his/her (cultural) expectations to be met, ensure they are met?

By writing them down, or clearly articulating them, as requirements: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-oriented, and Time-bounded. Before the fact. This is a translation action that takes the subjective “expectation” out of his/her head and objectively records actions or results as requirements, such as within the Standards of Performance section of a contract. (E.g., within your Employment Agreement.) Where explicit begins, implication ends.

Performing this translation action also serves to identify that it is indeed appropriate and proper to “require” the action or result: Should the resultant requirement violate morality, ethics, or laws/regulations/policy/contracts, here is where it will be obvious.

And when effective managers have an expectation (and they will), it will be stated as (i.e., translated into) a requirement: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-oriented, and Time-bounded.

When service providers (i.e., you) are confronted with “That’s not what I meant,” the appropriate response is “But, that’s what you required, as stated here…” Or, when confronted with “We expect…” the appropriate response is “Is that a requirement?” And, if the expectation is really, really important to that person with the expectation, then the appropriate response becomes “This appears to be a new requirement. Would you like to amend our [agreement/project plan/job description/task list/etc.]? If we don’t define this as a requirement, then it’s not required.”

Note the dogmatic approach to what is required, differentiated from expectations. (Note also, that it’s poor form to suggest to a manager, or anyone else, that he/she may expect in one hand, and pee in the other.)

Implementation Example

For example,

“Be prepared to re-think your calling as well as your job. Your calling is the most important thing you can do in which you would be most difficult to replace. Your job puts food on the table

They are rarely the same. If they are the same, that’s your career.

Always post your questions on the site, so that everyone can access my answers (search engine). Also, some member may have a solution better than mine. This is why I do not answer questions sent to me by email.

Do not ask questions in an existing thread. Start a new thread.”


Dr. North has stated his requirements, with predicates. These are fully achievable, and because they are stated before the fact (and documented), we may individually decide to comply; or not. We may independently understand what is required without having to check with Dr. North as to whether or not we’ve met his expectations. And Dr. North has the published Standard of Performance criteria to enforce his side of the bargain.

(From a technical perspective, the reader may note that some aspects of SMART are presumed. For example, is it perfectly acceptable to presume “Time-bounded” if the “Specific” always applies, without time limitation. That is, a “reasonable person” would interpret the lack of a specific time statement as meaning the requirement always applies; until stated otherwise. We cannot and usually do not try to define everything down to the nth level of detail. Hence, the reliance upon the Reasonable Person doctrine in our relationships.)

Now, we can understand before-the-fact, and meet his requirements for participation during the fact, regardless of whether or not we’ve met his expectations. (And I suspect that with several hundred or thousand present customers, Dr. North regularly experiences those customers meeting his expectations to varying degrees.)


We may successfully interact with those using expectations most effectively by always responding to their demands to meet their expectations, by communicating the cost of meeting the translated requirement(s), and requesting agreement that the requester will pay that cost. Undoubtedly, this may result in an immediate teenager-in-puberty behavioral response, but that is merely a symptom of risk avoidance.

Part and parcel to being on the “Effective” side of the Management/Performance Boat (i.e., the 20% side), is changing the way you do business with the managers/executives (AND the employees) of this firm, who may be on the “Less-Than-Effective” side. (E.g., the 80% side, that states “I work whatever number of hours it takes.”)

Specifically, if they “expect,” then you translate that expectation into requirements (Get SMART!), and have them validate and agree that that’s what they require. Cause them to use the “R” word. Cause them to “Get SMART!” (You can draft this for them if you wish, then present your draft of their requirement for validation/correction.)

Then you cost the requirement, and communicate to them the cost of implementing their requirement. By this means, you let them know, by your actions, that your employment bargain is not ruled by expectations, only requirements. (As an aside, you and I both know that you will not do this for every little tidbit. But you should do this for anything that materially affects your employment bargain, working environment, and rewards. That is, materially affects your career, such as your 40 hour limit.)

It is your career, your bargain, and your decision. It’s “on you” to defend these things. Or surrender them.

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