I was speaking with my good friend Tom the other day. Tom is a business owner, and the definition of a straight shooter. He doesn’t tolerate people who waste his time or who don’t deliver as promised. We were speaking about a few things on the phone, and he shared a story of a contractor he was working with who never, ever seemed to be able to meet a deadline. And Tom’s point to me was simple… “Just manage my expectations.”
This is a huge point that applies to all of us. Expectations and perceptions matter, and both contribute directly to your credibility as a professional or business owner. People want to work with professionals who simply deliver what they say they will deliver. We respect people who do a good job, and who meet deadlines, and if a deadline needs to be missed, who will communicate directly and manage the expectations.
People hate working with professionals who just cannot ever deliver what was promised, in the time frame it was promised. If you develop a reputation as someone who never finishes things on time, or who always promises the unrealistic and then always disappoints, you will be constantly chipping away at your own credibility. And eventually that will hurt you in the wallet. It will cost you a job or a promotion or a project lead. A loss of credibility is like playing the house in blackjack. You may get ahead for a little while, but eventually the house always wins. You need your credibility if you want to accomplish anything. And it is hard to have any credibility if you always disappoint.
We’re focused on simple ideas this week at The Beacon Blog. And on a beautiful April Monday, we’re thinking about honest communication that manages expectations. And we’re encouraging you to think about being a professional who not only does good work, but who delivers it as promised, or who communications clearly and proactively when that becomes impossible.
Think about how powerful that would be for your professional brand.
Have a great day.
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Photo by Images Money adapted under the following license
Interesting post and one I definitely agree with.
You talked about “managing expectations” and I thought it might be useful to mention that when managing expectations, don’t over-deliver too frequently.
For example, if you continually build buffer into your estimations and deliver way ahead of schedule, your clients might come to expect you to *always* deliver way ahead of schedule.
The buffer is important and delivering on-time or slightly ahead of schedule is extremely important, but that doesn’t mean that delivering significantly ahead of schedule is even better.
I wrote a post on a similar topic if you’re interested:
Thanks for reading, and for your comments, John… I took a look at your post as well, and I like your idea of the deliver-buffer on deadlines… It’s the equivalent of taking traffic into account when you leave the house to get to a meeting on time — or early.
Either way, whether you’re managing early deadlines or missed ones, the key will always be communicating directly with whom you’re working.