Managing Expectations

On Friday, I wrote about closing loops on everything—questions, requests, complaints, whatever. One thing that will make closing those loops much easier is by properly managing expectations.

This concept is one of the most important business lessons I have learned. It truly is a 360˚ method of management, because it goes up, down and sideways. And managing expectations works because it keeps people on the same page, it gives everyone a basis for assessment and it gets things done.

Here’s what I mean. Your boss tasks you with a project. Keeping him informed of where you are, what obstacles you face and why you will or will not meet the deadline is the only way to ensure you’ll get through it. Without managing his expectations, the first hiccup you hit looks like incompetence.

Look at it from the other side. Suppose you task one of your employees with a project. If you are telling them what your expectations are of them, there is no telling what you will get or when it will be done. Manage it from the beginning and you’ll get a better outcome.

It also works with colleagues. If your working on a project together, keeping your team informed about your particular piece allows them to manage their portion better. And there are far fewer surprises.

Of course, managing someone’s expectations is useless if you aren’t delivering.

What about your customers? How well are you managing their expectations of what you say you are going to deliver? How well are you meeting those expectations?

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