Meeting Expectations

One of the most difficult challenges I face with clients is managing their expectations. It happens in a million ways. Sometimes they don’t have all the information, other times their past experience colors the relationship, or they simply don’t have the experience to evaluate success. Whatever the cause, it’s up to you to manage the outcome. Why? 

Because whether you’re a client driven business like Cooke Pictures, or dealing with a boss or supervisor, your success depends on meeting – and exceeding – their expectations.

To make that happen, here’s a few suggestions:

1) Be direct. Most client, boss, supervisor relationships fail simply because there are misunderstandings. Ask questions. Be specific. Don’t leave the meeting without knowing exactly what they want you to accomplish.

2) Be honest. Let them know what you can and can’t do. Don’t be embarrassed to tell them your weakness. I used to work with a guy who was ashamed to tell the boss that he couldn’t deliver on certain things. As a result he kept missing deadlines which cost us dearly. Trust me – the boss or client would much rather know upfront that you can’t deliver than to find out the night before the deadline.

3) Don’t assume. Most of the times I’ve gotten into trouble have been when I “assumed” the client understood what I meant. I wasn’t clear and specific. I didn’t check. That always gets you into trouble.

4) Over deliver. Your boss or client thinks you’re an expert in your field, so prove it. If they find mistakes in your work, they’ll start wondering why they hired you in the first place. Set a high bar, and always deliver. If possible, deliver early. It will make a huge impression.

5)  Give them options.  Sometimes, things don’t work out like either of you expect.  In those cases, tell them you understand the situation, and provide them options.  Let them know you care about their project more than they do.  That attitude alone will win you a client for life.

Facts are one thing, but Expectations are another. Don’t think both match, and always be concerned about perceptions and expectations. When you don’t manage them, disaster will always happen.

Any other suggestions for managing your boss or client’s expectations?