beach pebels showing expectations

Meeting Expectations Vs. Managing Expectations. Which is more important?

As a leader of a custom software development company for over seven years, I have debated over this question with my peers operating in the same/similar space.

If you are a manager or leader of a group, company, business, product or even a family, there are certain expectations that you are expected to meet – meeting deadlines, budget management, positive ROI, etc. How often you excel in meeting expectations is the denominator that validates an individual’s success in their role.

However, one factor that I have seen young managers and leaders struggle with when dealing with expectations, is understanding the difference between meeting expectations and managing expectations.

The verbs defining expectations are self-explanatory.  Meeting expectations deals with reaching/exceeding the goals that have been set for you. Managing expectations deals mainly with communicating any changes (expected or unexpected) to al

managing expectations - Employee relation

l the stakeholders and keeping them updated on the overall progress.

More often than not, people get so involved in concentrating on meeting expectations that they forget about managing them. This works fine in cases when expectations are met in a timely manner, but all hell breaks loose if one hits a roadblock or encounters an unexpected turn of events, especially when close to a deadline.

As a mantra, I always stress on the fact that managing expectations is more important than meeting expectations.

Managing expectations in the bare minimum a manager should do as the word “manage” comprises 86% of their job role.

Here are 3 important things that one should keep in mind for managing expectations:

  1. Communication

Communication is the key. Timely communication to all key parties involved in the project informing them of any changes and what to expect as a result of the same is the most important aspect of managing expectations. Remember, company communication and growth are related.

managing expectations - timing

  1. Give a Solution

Managing expectations often involve communicating delays or problems encountered in the overall progress of a project. It is important that an appropriate solution or plan of action is communicated with the reason for the delay as well

  1. Focus on the Positive

Mention the plus points even in a negative situation. It is always important to keep the focus on the light at the end of the tunnel or the silver lining when communicating updates with the aim of managing expectations.

Delays happen, things change, nothing is ever perfect, and people understand. As long as you tell people what to expect and keep in check what their expectations are, everybody stays calm and productivity is not lost. This is even more important for startups that always operate within an environment of uncertainty.

If you want to become a manager, here is a related article that discusses ways to become a better account manager.

Honestly,  is an important life lesson and should be given priority in all aspects of life. Having people on the same page as you go a long way in your journey to success.

Onward and upward!