How to manage expectations

The physical distribution of the teams incorporates many managerial fears and anxieties. Some not entirely unfounded. The biggest among them is the fear of losing control.

What managers control is a classic key question that determines the management style in general. If a manager controls the physical presence of a person in a certain place at a specific time, it is one kind of leadership. As in 6th grade. Or rather in the 4th.

If they control the most accurate reproduction of the detailed guidance for performing a job - in addition to being known as micromanagement, this can give the manager a lot of advantages in creating prescriptions for a robot training. Such helpers who follow well-defined patterns of behaviour. Without any deviations. And this is another type of leadership.

If the goal is to direct teams to the results they need to achieve, following a clear, shared purpose, then these managers have a more serious idea of efficiency and leadership than most of their colleagues.

For many professions, of course, physical presence is prerequisite - chefs, manicurists, production workers. And here again, we come to the question what do managers control? Is it the preparation of 8 green salads and a cheese salad or is it the quality - for which we must have good enough criteria to measure?

Kevin Lane Keller explicitly emphasises that marketing does not work with quality per se, but with the idea of perceived quality. This perceived quality is formed by two main correlations - what it costs me for what I get, and what I get compared to the alternative options. The best tool for working with our customers' perceptions of quality is the management of expectations.

Here some easy-to-understand expectations management principles that will be helpful:

If we promise something attractive and affordable enough, and we deliver it, the satisfaction of our customers will be high. If we exceed the expectations we have created, we will achieve a WOW effect. But let's not forget that this WOW level will now be perceived as the norm every next time. That is why the impressive elements are always to be applied carefully and with an assessment of the necessary follow-up. Especially if there is a risk of failure, unfavourable perception or a kind of distortion of the original idea.

The fear of losing control disappears when there is an overview of the tasks and the expected results. If it is clear what is to be achieved and the right people are identified, the initiative on how to achieve the goals can be left in their hands. They have anyway more details about the operational steps, the necessary coordination and the interdependencies. They can more easily assess the risks in their field of expertise and form a process that will end with achieving the desired result.

Sharing this knowledge with others in the team, the transparency will not only improve the coordination of the work but will also partially replace the need for detailed control. Because this way not only the manager, but the whole team will be aware and will monitor the implementation of the tasks.  (in Bulgarian)

the article appeared in Forbes Bulgaria (in Bulgarian)