Awareness: How to Exceed Your Expectations (Class 17)

Straight-A Guide Job Training Program

Lesson #17 Awareness:

How to Exceed your Expectations

(This lesson contributed by facilitator Jerron Jordan)

Materials Required:

  • Classroom Space
  • Sufficient number of chairs with writing surface
  • One handout titled “A Starbucks Story”
  • One handout titled “Reach for the Stars”

Introduce Lesson #17 (5 minutes)

  • Discuss how exceeding our expectations leads to success in everything we do.

First Steps (10 minutes)

  • Take roll of participants
  • Facilitator begins discussion by asking participants to give one example of when they exceeded their own expectations.

Goals and Objectives (5 minutes)

  • Explain how The Straight-A Guide Job Training course will enable participants to exceed their own expectations.

Expected Learning Outcomes (5 minutes)

  • Facilitator teaches participants methods on how to exceed their own expectations.
  • Facilitator will teach participants how to exceed the expectations of those around them.

Preliminary Introduction (5 minutes)

  • Facilitator will have participants read through Handout ” A Starbucks Story”

Direct Instruction (10 minutes)

  • Facilitator will explain how exceeding your own expectations will eventually lead to exceeding the expectations of those around you being that we are our own worst critics. Facilitator will reflect on A Starbucks Story handout and explain, in detail, that no detail is too small and no task to big. Facilitator will explain that being the best in the room requires research and planning. Facilitator will use the example of Michael Jordan’s’ meteoric rise to fame by hard work and thousands of hour in the gym.

Guided Practice(20 minutes)

  • Facilitator will provide handout  “Reach for the Stars”
  • Facilitator will have one participant read the instructions. Facilitator will then conduct the first exercise and explain that there are no wrong answers. Facilitator will encourage participants to think big. Facilitator will hold a class discussion on first exercise and point out that there is always room for improvement so if we slow down and think about the best way to go about doing things before we do them then we can exceed our own expectations.
  • Facilitator will conduct second exercise. Facilitator will encourage participants to take their time and use the knowledge learned in the from the this lesson. Facilitator will hold class discussion about exercise and have one participant share their answers. Facilitator will close with final thoughts on how each participant has exceeding their own expectations by participating in The Straight-A Guide jib training program.


Lesson #22 Handout

Reach for The Stars

This exercise is to help you look back on some accomplishments and see how you could have done them better. Then it gives you a chance take some goals you already have and plan to exceed your own expectations. Remember the Starbucks story and how the little things really made a huge difference. Be creative in the way you answer these questions. No detail is ever too small and no task is ever too big.


List Two things that you have accomplished in the past year.



Now list five ways you could have done them better.

Number One                                                                                          Number Two

1. 1.
2. 2.
3. 3.
4. 4.
5. 5.



List Two things you want to accomplish this year.



Now list Five ways you will use to exceed you expectations.

Number One                                                                                           Number Two

1. 1.
2. 2.
3. 3.
4. 4.
5. 5.



Lesson# 17 Handout

A Starbucks Story


The Starbucks story took another turn in the year 2000 when Schultz stepped down as CEO and moved into the role as chairman of the board of directors. For the next several years, Starbucks’s financial performance declined and its stock value began to fall. On February 14, 2007, Schultz sent a memorandum to the senior executives of Starbucks. He was concerned about the way Starbucks was heading and feared the company had lost sight of what had made it successful. He called the problem “The Commoditization of Starbucks.” In that memorandum, Schultz said,

As you prepare for the FY 08 strategic planning process, I want to share some of my thoughts with you. Over the past ten years, in order to achieve the growth, development, and scale necessary to go from less than 1,000 stores to 13,000 stores and beyond, we have had to make a series of decisions that, in retrospect, have lead to the watering down of the Starbucks experience, and, what some might call the commoditization of our brand.

Many of these decisions were probably right at the time, and on their own merit would not have created the dilution of the experience; but in this case, the sum is much greater and, unfortunately, much more damaging than the individual pieces.

Schultz went on to talk about specific things they had done that changed the Starbucks experience. He mentioned the equipment they installed that blocked the customers’ view of the coffee-making processes. He talked about the loss of coffee aroma that resulted from using airtight bags for their coffee beans and the change in overall store design that had diminished the neighborhood feel of the stores. Schultz asserted that these and other factors had changed the Starbucks environment from the original concept of Starbucks as a “third place” and were at the root of current problems. They had stopped exceeding the expectations of their customers, and they were not even meeting them.

Once Starbucks changed the coffee-consumption culture in America by changing expectations, the company forgot that the change would eventually revert back to being the status quo. When the company began to make other changes that eroded the “third place” environment, it was actually exceeding expectations again, but in a negative way. Over time, it began to impact financial performance.

In January 2008, Schultz reclaimed the CEO position at Starbucks and committed himself to getting the company back on track. In April 2008, he was interviewed for Business Week magazine by Maria Bartiromo. While sharing his strategy to reestablish the Starbucks image and growth, Schultz said,

But the job of every retailer and every merchant is to put yourself in the shoes of the customer and ask yourself: “Are you exceeding their expectations?” That’s what we have to do as a business.

Schultz was clear in this interview that he was going to return to the core principles that had differentiated Starbucks from the beginning. He intended to return to his primary strategy of exceeding customer expectations.

Persuasion Is the Key to Exceeding Expectations

The Starbucks story is a great example of how exceeding expectations can create and sustain tremendous success for a business. By persuading his retailers and merchants to think like their customers, he was able to recapture the mind-set of exceeding expectations, which ultimately allowed Starbucks to return to its core strategic principles.

However, there is more to exceeding expectations than merely adopting it as a global business strategy. Exceeding expectations has its greatest impact when it is adopted by individuals as a way of life. When you have a group of people who are all willing to exceed expectations in the normal course of their daily activity, you have created a powerful force for superior results. The results produced are achieved faster and of a better quality.

It is rare for anyone to exceed expectations unless they do it on purpose. To exceed expectations on purpose means you have an understanding of expected performance, and you realize that expected performance is in no way extraordinary. It becomes tougher when you realize that exceeding expectations requires more effort to surpass what might be described as “acceptable performance.” Acceptable performance is in fact mediocrity, and mediocrity is usually the norm. Excellence is not something that is routinely expected; therefore, exceeding expectations always produces excellence.

Every human being is capable of producing excellence, because every human being is capable of exceeding expectations. The only thing that has to happen to regularly produce excellence is to become willing to regularly exceed expectations. As simple as it sounds, most people do not become willing to practice excellence on a daily basis until they are persuaded to do so.