Managing Expectations

An ability that drives success, I think. Whether you’re a person in charge of others or an individual looking to break out in your career, being able to manage expectations is a good skill to have. Is it easy to obtain? Like most things, probably not. If you’re willing to put in the work, you’ll probably pick it up through trial and error.

We’re inclined to say “yes” to many of things. The question is, why do we say yes so much? Is it to impress someone? Are we just afraid to say no because of what people will think of us? Are we that confident in our power to get the ask done? These are the questions I ask in a professional setting, trying to find an answer to apply in said setting, but also outside of it. Bear with my brain here.

I think being able to assess the task before accepting it is a crucial part in managing expectations. Ask questions, a lot of questions. The more information you have, the more definitive answer you can give. If you are on a team, knowing roughly your crew’s abilities and current workload is important, else they fall behind on a task because they’ve taken something new on and don’t have bandwidth, which would then cause them to fall behind on things they’re currently working on in tandem.

Have proper context and know your own abilities. If you are realistic in your abilities, you know what you can take on in a proper timeline. I get it. Sometimes you want a challenge. However, there’s a difference in taking a challenge blindly and taking one based on your current capabilities. You can hold up timelines for other tasks if you aren’t prepared to take a challenge on. If you’re managing a team, shouldn’t you have a rough idea of the abilities of your team members, before taking on several projects? More opportunities for success is good, but if you’ve taken 3 projects at once and your team now isn’t able to fulfill the deadlines while balancing other work, then the success rate isn’t really there, is it?

Things would be made a lot easier if a project manager was brought into the fold for the larger scale commitments. If it’s got a lot of moving parts, with many teams involved, someone needs to be invested in keeping things organized, or everything will be moved into disarray. More often than not, I’ve seen projects get done, but after completion hear how the process to get to the end was a nightmare. Requirements not received, deadlines constantly pushed, several crunch time evenings to meet a deadline that would eventually get pushed. In the end, all that matters is that it got done right, despite how sloppy it was to get there?

So why am I writing all this as if I’ve experienced all this first hand? Well, in a way, I’ve either experienced it first hand or observed it from afar. It is my brain, after all and I am trying to organize these thoughts into something readable. Not sure if I’ve succeeded. I’ve had priorities shifted and work performance decline (not enough to be noticeable) due to the lack of proper project planning for other things that come down the pipeline. Not every project is going to be rice and rainbows and even if it starts that way, it might still become a nightmare. I’m not looking for perfection, that’s absurd. I’m looking for ease of mind, to be able to continue performing at a level that keeps the people we work with/for satisfied. In the end, we’re all in it together to be successful. Just don’t rock the boat.

This is the end. No twist. No punchline.