3 rules to succeed by delivering on expectations

We all have expectations, in life, at work and about sleeping. Expectations are at the heart of the most happy moments, and unhappy ones. This post describes three rules to deliver harmoniously a product/service by managing expectations.

I am now in the South of France and expect better weather than in London. I hope to see sky without clouds and to wear a straw hat (I’m bald) to protect me from the sun. Those are some of my expectations.

If the sun was not there (in real life it’s sunny), I’ll come back to London in a very bad mood unless I reset my expectations, create new ones. For example I could change the meaning of the trip to visit wine cellars and the weekend would still be a success. My new expectation would be to improve my knowledge of wines while also enjoying food.

New expectation - wine cellar

By Xlibber on Flickr

This is how important and adaptable expectations are.

Actors and definitions

Expectation management requires two or more actors. You as the one delivering on the receiver’s expectations. For the sake of simplicity we are going to talk only about how you can manage the receiver’s expectations.

The definition of expectation is:

a strong belief that something will happen or be the case.


First rule: Be honest

First and most important rule: Be honest! I would say be brutally honest.

When creating the expectations, be sure to detail what is going to be delivered, what it’s made for, what problems are going to be solved and how. If you’re delivering a service then keep the receiver updated during the full delivery process (read rule #2).

If you’re inheriting a bad situation, start by resetting the expectation for a new start. If the project has BIG gaps between expectations start by stating the truth. It is hard, it will create tensions but it will create trust that what you said is real and that in the longer term has more value.

Second rule: Communicate, communicate, communicate

Communication is the only way to keep expectations from turning to enemies.

Set the initial expectation match

Expectations well set create trust.

Set expectations early and clearly, get what is expected from you as soon as possible and communicate to solve any discrepancy with what you plan to deliver. What you’re aiming for is an expectation match, the more details the better.

TIP: Unclear expectations are more the rule than the exception. Transform an unclear expectation into a clear one (for you) and communicate it to the receiver, this will ease the setup of an expectation, show your willingness to deliver good results and promote you to a trusted advisor.

Communicate what you are doing

Communication is to be regular, frequent if needed.

Keep the receiver informed of the progresses, for good and bad news. Don’t be shy to deliver the bad news. If you keep the communication open, people will be more patient, solutions can be found together and often the receiver can change his/her expectation to be a better match with what you provide.

Third rule:  Fulfill expectations and build trust

By working as a team between you and the receiver you will fulfill the expectation and create a successful result. Even if the final result is far from the initial expectations of the receiver.

By setting, refining and updating expectations you’ll show how you think, how you solve conflicts and build trust.

Real trust, the one you create on a battlefield. Succeeding in managing expectation will transform you into a trusted advisor.

Succeeding in managing expectation will transform you into a trusted advisor  – Frank Contrepois

Experience the power of expectation by going out for dinner (and make your partner happy)

As a task on your next dinner out, define in advance your expectations about the place, food, speed of service and price. Check your mood at the end of the dinner and understand which expectation was not fulfilled.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.