How To Make A Formula Into A Value In Excel Managing Expectations

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Managing Expectations

The art and science behind commitment and managing expectations has always been a critical skill set for senior executives and entrepreneurs. In fact, understanding how to get on the right side of the expectation curve can often be the difference between average performers and superstars. This is evidenced by the fact that the consulting industry has de-emphasized this topic, so much so that it has evolved into an emerging discipline called Promise Management. In this blog post, I discuss the value of promise management as a discipline.

Nothing builds trust or bonds of trust like keeping promises, and few things erode trust and credibility like failing to deliver on commitments. In a previous post titled “Follow Up,” I discussed the importance of saying what you mean, meaning what you say, and doing what you say you’ll do. The science of promise management systematically connects what is said with what is done. The art of promise management is closing, or better yet, closing the expectation gap. Mix art and science together and you have a framework for what is becoming the differentiator of results-based decision making in the 21st century.

Conflicts, disagreements, disputes and litigation often arise from gaps in expectations. Expectations cut both ways…Getting your end of the bargain is only half of the equation, because what you think only matters if it aligns with the other party’s understanding. We’ve all found ourselves in the unenviable situation where a work product has been specified only to have the end result fall far short of expectations, while the producer of said work product thought all expectations were exceeded.

Expectations exist throughout the value chain and each stakeholder needs and deserves to manage and meet their expectations. Whether it’s managing customer expectations, shareholder or analyst expectations, or the opposite situation where employees have to deal with executive expectations, it is the ability to excel in decision-making based on expectation management that creates high-performing organizations.

Promises based on solid reasoning and underlying business logic that are consistently delivered help create a solid brand that attracts loyal customers and talented employees. The following three practices help create an organization that lives up to its responsibilities.

1. Collaborate early and often: Making decisions in a vacuum or without all the facts puts you at a disadvantage from the start. At best, it’s extremely difficult to manage expectations and deliver on commitments if you don’t have a clear picture of what is wanted or needed. Before making promises or commitments, work with everyone involved to ensure expectations are understood.

2. Resist making verbal commitments: Most misunderstandings occur as a result of misinterpretation of verbal communication. Most broken commitments result from impulsive verbal promises made before all the details have been worked out. Once you have gained clarity on the perceived need for execution, put your understanding of the deliverables in writing, outlining the key business points, and circulate the document for review and comment. If possible, refrain from formalizing contracts, proposals or other commitments until you have aligned key expectations and deliverables.

3. Manages promises like projects: Create a culture that breaks down all commitments into deliverables, benchmarks and deadlines. Allocate resources, budget and staff while meeting responsibilities within a framework of measured accountability. Treating all commitments and promises as formal projects helps manage performance risk and also creates consistency of processes and deliverables.

Performance-based decision-making based on the principles of promise management leads to delivery assurance that should translate into one of your company’s greatest competitive advantages.

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