Leadership: Managing Expectations

Imagine you have just been brought into an organisation with the specific goal of making a step change in the performance of the organisation or a specific team, function or project.   Chances are that people around the organisation will be thinking that you are superman or superwoman and that you have some magic wand that is going to fix everything.  The reality, as you know is somewhat different.  So what is it important to do to manage expectations?

Be Totally Honest

Any situation that requires a step change in performance is not going to be something small.  As a result it is important that you are totally honest with people about the size of the challenge and that there is no magic bullet.  Get clear on your message and stick to it.  Make sure that others in your leadership team are clear on the message and stick to it.

Set Realistic Timescales

One of the temptations is to promise timescales that are neither plausible nor achievable.  The best leaders recognise this and set themselves timescales that are going to be seen as others as realistic and position them as totally grounded.  When they are seen as realistic and grounded it builds trust and confidence in them.  This can be particularly useful when it comes to handling media expectations.

Communicate Regularly

It is no use just communicating the vision and then thinking that the communication is done.  This should be the start of a rolling programme of communication that keeps people up to date with the progress and achievements.

Avoid Promises

If you have a situation where you are having to cut costs in order to achieve the step change in performance, employees and their representatives might be looking for promises around job losses.  As the leader you must resist the temptation to avoid making promises that you cannot keep.

Bottom Line – If you are a leader who is tasked with making a step change in performance, managing expectations is a key pillar in your success.  So what do you need to do differently to manage expectations?

About the Author Duncan Brodie

Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 7,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.

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