Expectation Management: A Skill Every Leader Needs
By the Team at Mitchell Management Consulting

There are few things more frustrating than finally completing a project, only to have your boss say it wasn’t what he was looking for.

We have all been there at some point. We’ve missed the mark or dropped the ball.

And despite how much time we’ve lost working on said project, the worst part is feeling like you didn’t meet someone’s expectations.

But here’s the thing– how can anyone meet expectations if they’re never clearly outlined?

What is Expectation Management?

Expectation management is the act of setting clear, concise guidelines before a project is started with the intent of informing those involved and preventing issues.expectation management

Expectation management is an essential part of being a transparent leader.

It allows you to set up your employees for success, which in turn means a successful project for you.

Leadership author Jack Kinder once said, “High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectations.”

When setting expectations, it’s important that you convey how and when you want a project to be completed.

You aren’t telling employees exactly how to do the project. Rather, you’re giving them an outline and telling them how you will be measuring success.

How to Set Expectations

Holding a kick-off meeting is a great way to begin a project with everyone on the same page.

When you hold your meeting, be sure to convey your expectations both in a written and verbal format.expectation management

This will allow your cohorts to refer back to your guidelines at any time during the project.

You should discuss these three main things in your meeting: background of the project, timelines and assigned duties, how you’re measuring success.

After you open up the discussion to allow people to ask questions, your job is done. Your team should be fully informed and ready to perform.

When to Check Back In

There is a fine line between giving guidance and micromanaging.expectation management

If you are kicking off a new project or are managing a new team, daily check-ins might be necessary. But if you are working with the same team, weekly check-ins should suffice.

Once you’ve laid down guidelines, it’s incredibly important for you to take a step back and let your team produce.

Sometimes, having a team leader hover over a team is the worst thing for a project, even if they have the best intentions.

We’ll close out with a quote from Victor Lipman, who is a longtime Forbes Contributor. According to Lipman, “clear expectations are a manager’s best friend. Without them, clear results prove elusive.”