How to Manage Expectations

Have you been asked to organize a big event or a conference? Are you starting a new job or venture?

If so, then a key part of your success will be managing expectations. If you focus on four key areas, not only will you manage expectations, but you can also be assured to deliver success.

The four key areas to focus on include:

Wins. If you deliver a few wins early in the process, everyone who is working with you will have a greater level of confidence that you will deliver the final project. They also will be more willing to trust you. As soon as you start your new job or take the helm of a project, find out what is needed quickly and deliver it.

Delivery. Delivery is another focus area. You want to deliver some wins early. But don’t overpromise. Set reasonable deadlines and then meet them. Nothing is worse than agreeing to do something and then not delivering. In a former job, I often had to review materials from other people. I always planned to do so by day’s end. What I didn’t account for was the other five or six or seven requests that also would come in before the day was out. I quickly learned to state that it would be a few days before I could finish the review. That way, people weren’t disappointed if I couldn’t deliver by day’s end. If I was able to complete the review in a day, it was all the better. It’s better to under promise and over deliver.

Clarity. Be sure to understand what the assignment truly entails. I had a boss who could tell me what he didn’t like. He wasn’t as good at telling me what he wanted. I quickly learned that I was better off meeting regularly and reviewing the progress of a project or publication early and often so I could get better clarity from him. Doing so kept the project or publication on track and allowed me to meet deadlines. It also meant my boss was pleased with the final result. If I hadn’t consulted frequently with him, I may not have understood what the desired outcome was.

Communications. Communicate often. I serve on many committees (some virtually), and the first thing I’ve learned to do if I’m chairing the committee is to send a welcome note to everyone. This provides for inclusiveness and ensures I have the correct contact details. With the group, we establish how often we will meet, what are deadlines are and how we will manage tasks. Sending out an agenda and high-level notes (at a minimum, the task list) keeps everyone focused. Sometimes it’s good to over communicate.

By focusing on these areas, you can better manage expectations.

One thought on “How to Manage Expectations

  1. Kay Stephens says:

    This is the kind of posting that I find valuable — as I read and as I make a copy for a folder with materials involving a future project. It also reminds me that I think you were interested in compiling some of your best blogs in a book. If you’re making progress, definitely include this one.

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