Cure Frozen Dinner Syndrome by Setting Clear Expectations

frozen dinner syndrome team expectationsWe’ve all been there…

And it’s usually not a proud moment.

Something inside you gave in, and you brought home a frozen dinner from the grocery store. 

Then, refusing to order pizza or Chinese again, you actually cooked it… 

And a few minutes later, as you pulled it out of the microwave, you probably experienced FDS.


FDS has become an epidemic…

Today though, Frozen Dinner Syndrome is not only affecting kitchens across America (and Canada, eh!), but the businesses and organizations where you work.


Frozen Dinner Syndrome is the result of flawed expectations.


Remember looking at the box there in the freezer aisle, and convincing yourself that it looked appetizing… even desirable?

Those expectations from the picture on the box are the reason for your disappointment when you pulled the serving tray out of the microwave!

The two did not look the same.  They seldom do.

That is because Frozen Dinner Marketers are liars.  The make bold promises and set our expectations high, and then deliver less than we had hoped to enjoy.

In your kitchen, that is one thing.  But in your business, on your team, that can be more than unappetizing – it can be dangerous and costly…

 So how do you cure FDS?

I’m glad you asked!


1. Realize that Everything starts with Awareness.


FDS is caused by faulty expectations. 

When you expect too much from a Lean Cuisine box, you are often disappointed and frustrated.

But in your business, when you expect too much from your people, the frustration and disappointment can lead to lost clients or poor performance. 

And that is unacceptable.

So the key to curing FDS is in setting and requesting clear expectations!


Too often people, as well-intentioned leaders, give vague instructions and then are surprised to get back a project or an effort that was beneath their expectation.

Are you aware of the directions and expectations you have shared? 


2. Clarify… and Provide Clear Expectations!


 If you want to get what you expect, share your expectations and be clear about what needs to be done, by whom, by when, etc.

Give an example of what great work should look like – and make sure that you and your people are seeing the same thing.

As a team building speaker, one insight I often share is that if you are being given instructions, your job is to CLARIFY.

Ask questions to ensure that you know what your teammate or leader is expecting.


“So what I hear you saying is…”

“Sounds like you are wanting me to…”

“Just to be clear, what you want is…”


Those simple clarifying questions may be the only thing between you and a very disappointing FDS experience.


All Failure is the Result of Vague Expectations


Thankfully, Frozen Dinner Syndrome can be avoided…

In Rapid Teamwork, you can read about how setting clear expectations is actually the third step in building a cohesive and productive team culture:

clear expectations rapid teamwork

After setting goals and building relationships among your staff, providing and requesting clear expectations is the next part of a recipe that will deliver you a far more effective and focused team.


If you want a better team – if you want better results – share and request clear expectations for them.

Instead of over-promising and under delivering (like most frozen dinners), make a commitment to over-deliver… or at the very least, be sure to deliver what you promised!

Nobody wants to suffer through the frustration of Frozen Dinner Syndrome…


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