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The Importance of Managing Expectations

The Importance of Managing Expectations
ArticleRecruitment ProcessLeadership
Publish Date: October 2nd, 2023

Have you ever taken a sip of your drink, only to find that it’s not at all what you expected?

If you thought it was water and find yourself sipping a diet coke, the feeling is unpleasant – no matter how much you might like diet coke usually. That’s because you weren’t expecting it.

When it comes to managing expectations, there’s no skill more important in terms of building strong, happy relationships. In business, this applies to all parties; your clients, customers, colleagues, even your own boss and those who report directly to you.

To give an example: if you make a promise to deliver a piece of work in ten days and have it completed in seven, you’re a hero. If you made the promise to be done within five but deliver in seven, there’s going to be disappointment. The outcome is the same – the work was delivered in seven days – but in the case of the latter, because you didn’t properly manage expectations the relationship has been negatively impacted.

So, whether you’re a manager, salesperson, business owner or otherwise, here are some things to think about when it comes to managing expectations – moreover, how doing so can really improve and strengthen the relationships you build across the board.

Managing your employees’ expectations

Unaddressed employee expectations can unfortunately lead to demotivation, and sometimes even resentment in the workplace. This means you need to clearly define what your responsibilities are as the leader, communicate these to your team and then be accountable for fulfilling these actions.

In the employee-manager relationship, many things can fall under ‘expectations’. This could be the expectation of one-on-one coaching, regular reviews or feedback; the expectation that you’ll step in to help close a deal; even down to making sure your team understands when you’re available, i.e. if it’s okay to get in touch outside of working hours or not. If your direct reports are expecting something from you – even something intangible like support or guidance – it’s your job to address this by either providing it or, if it shouldn’t be coming from you, pointing them in the right direction instead. Miscommunication of expectations can cause myriad problems and disappointments in the workplace – which will inevitably affect performance in the long run.

Managing your customers’ expectations

Whilst we don’t necessarily want to champion the somewhat old fashioned “under-promise, over-deliver” stance, managing expectations is key to building a long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationship with your customers. Instead, try to take more of a “be realistic and deliver your best” attitude, remaining transparent, open and honest throughout the journey.

Whether you work in recruitment like us or another industry entirely, it’s universally understood that humans want to know where they stand – meaning even if it’s not the answer we want, we’d rather be told the truth. Managing your customers’ expectations means giving regular updates, making no excuses and being accountable at all costs. Building a relationship on anything less just simply doesn’t cut it; building relationships on expertly managed expectations means that even when things don’t go exactly to plan, challenges can be overcome (as opposed to the relationship ending on a sour note).

Managing the expectations on yourself

Regardless of where you sit in the hierarchy of the company – you could be just starting out or own the whole show – there are people to report into and progress to manage. Whether that’s being held accountable for keeping the board or SMT updated, or simply checking in with your employees for a quarterly business rundown and review, it’s important to keep those who need to be in the loop just so.

Being a great manager of expectations is a sure-fire way to build your persona as a strong leader; someone who’s dependable, reliable and accountable. No nasty surprises, misleading or misinformation. Managing expectations means your customers get better service, your employees learn from your exemplary practices, and your own boss – whoever they might be, directly or indirectly – is happy and content.

It’s no secret that the management of expectations is an area where the recruitment industry has fallen down historically. I couldn’t be more proud that, across all three Certus brands, we endeavour to change that in every communication we undertake – and every relationship we build to prove it. To learn more about the difference you’ll find in partnering with us, get in touch.

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