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May 28

It seems business, if not life, is a lot about managing expectations. I’ve been going to school on this topic with clients, employees and vendors. Here are five tips that I’ve learned to better manage expectations:

1) Know what you want. In order to set an expectation, you have to know what the expectation is in the first place. Define in your head first what it is what you want. If you haven’t taken the time to really know what it is you want, then the person can’t possibly meet an unknown expectation.

2) Communicate (explicitly) what you want. Be explicit. I’ve found myself asking for a task to be completed by an employee and lo’ and behold, that task doesn’t get completed. Why? I didn’t detail out what the task was. I was too general. Be explicit and specific.

3) Set a deadline. It seems mean or something to set a deadline. I’ve learned, if there’s not a deadline, then it will get done when it gets done-and that’s a long time.

4) Get an agreement. Expectations must be understood. It’s crucial to go back over what is expected and very deliberately agree with both parties what the expectations are.

5) Write it down. It’s hard to (literally) manage your expectations when you don’t write them down. You may ask 10 things of 10 different people, but you can only keep track of a couple of those items in your head, so it’s inevitable your expectations won’t be met. At the time of the agreement, write down the expectation and the due date so you can dutifully follow-up and keep track.

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