Thursday, December 29, 2005

Managing Expectations

"Ohmm....Ohmmmm....cheeseburger...cheeseburger...ohmmmm..." Such was the mantra of one Arnold Jackson of Different Strokes TV show fame.

I often think about what I have as my personal mantra. My wife would say it is "manage expectations". I think that is just about it.

Two events occurred recently which caused me to rethink and clarify my mantra. One was when a friend started a blog which he has titled Managing Expectations and the other was a conversation with my wife about career choices. What does it really mean to manage expectations? When does it come into play? What limits come with it? What does it not do?

My thoughts... ohmmm.... ohmmm.... manage expectations.... ohmm..... ohmmmm.... manage expectations...

There are two ways to manage expectations:
  1. Internally (your own expectations) and
  2. Externally (the expectations of those with whom you interact)
In both situations managing expectations should always be accompanied by planning a response should the expectation managed come back different than foreseen.

For internal expectation management it is important to be make sure that you understand that managing your own expectations does not mean you should accept less than you deserve, need or want. It is a matter of being a realist. Being a realist allows you to think through scenarios without putting all eggs in one basket hoping for the best. It lessens the disappointment you might feel when expectations are not met.

For external expectation management with clients, friends, family, kids, etc.. it is about helping others see the reality of a situation. If you do this there are three possible scenarios that may result:
  1. The result is what you expected. Your client is happy because they got what they expected.
  2. The result is better than expected. Your client is thrilled with you because you came through with more.
  3. The result is less than expected. Your client is not happy. But thankfully you've got a plan of attack to address the less then desirable result. It is now time to take action on whatever those options are that you have had time to consider.
To see how this works at home or with family just insert "kids", "wife", "in-laws", etc... in place of "clients" in the above list. And remember that as the artist Meatloaf once said..."two out of three ain't bad." Speaking of Meatloaf... he's the king of managing expectations. Here's the line from that song:
And all I can do is keep on telling you
I want you
I need you
But there ain't no way I'm ever gonna love you
Now don't be sad
'Cause two out of three ain't bad
Talk about managing expectations!

Managing expectations properly prepares you for a less than desirable response. The key word here being "desire". It affords you a point of view that allows you to prepare a response in advance should you find out that what you asked for, need or want has not been delivered.

Should your expectations be exceeded the time you spent thinking or planning a counter response to a less than desirable result should not be considered wasted time and effort. It is preparation that is necessary in order to respond appropriately and swiftly to a situation that you wish to change.

So here are some expectations for you as you read my blog. I will:
  1. Try to make at least one new entry a week. Possibly more given time and opportunity, but expect at least one per week.
  2. I will mix up the subjects based on what is going on in my life.
  3. I will try to make a point with each post when I can. Sometimes I will have no point at all, just an idea, thought or information to pass along.
  4. I will take requests!
Hopefully I have managed your expectations well. Thanks!

1 comment:

Paul Diamond said...

Great Post Dan. I can't wait to read this week's post.