Expectations Management 

Day 205 Week 29 Q3 Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Creative outliers have expectations that differ from others. We tend to expect more. We tend to expect change. We tend to think we can make a difference. And then, there is an expectation gap when reality does not square without expectations. This expectations gap does not only occur internally but externally as well. Inventors and other ideators expressing their insights or manifestations of their insights often get feedback that shows the difference.

We also tend to learn more from negative feedback than from positive feedback. Positive means keep going the same thing. Negative feedback may mean doing something different unless we ignore it. To some extent, all change agents have to ignore a healthy amount of negative feedback, but hopefully not all of it. If they do, they run the risk of stopping learning.

Salespeople sometimes create expectations within their customers that exceed the reality of what they are selling. In the short term, perhaps they will sell more. But in the long term, it is better to underpromise and overdeliver. This is usually tricky to navigate because different populations have different priorities. Some groups are more willing than others to invest in diminishing returns of resources than others. Creative outliers are in the camp. Creative people sometimes say I would do this even if I were not getting paid. In fact, they may need to say that a lot for the majority of their effort may not be rewarded, especially as they are just starting out. And creative outliers are sometimes exposed by others who know they can get away with it, at least in the short term. 

Since reality shifts a great deal by definition during transitional situations, innovators not only find themselves as propagators of change but also being impacted by other changes beyond their control, such as market forces like competition and resource pipeline forces like availability. We are all always juggling exceptions of ourselves and of others. These changing expectations can be managed or ignored.

Simple examples include letting people know when you are going to be late or not showing up at all. Or when the price is going to be higher than expected. People do not like to be blindsided, and you can greatly reduce this by simply informing others with a simple status update.  This common courtesy is sometimes neglected.

If you agree to do something or to some terms and then something happens requiring you to change this agreement, you had better let others know. There can be a tendency to put one’s head in the ground and hope it gets resolved, but for the most part, informing others of fairly inevitable status changes is pretty important. 

To be a successful person, you must manage expectations respectfully and informally.

And do this both internally and externally.