Project Management

5 Tips to Manage Expectations on Your Projects

Anyone who has ever been through the Burger King drive-thru knows the pain of ordering one thing and receiving something else. Sometimes, stakeholders feel this same disappointment from deliverables on a project that you thought the stakeholders wanted. In a guest post for A Girl’s Guide to Project Management, Grace Windsor discusses how project managers can better manage project expectations, so that no one is disappointed. Her tips fall into five areas:

  1. Project planning
  2. Project execution
  3. Communication
  4. Under-promising and over-delivering
  5. Personal expectations

Thanks for Nothing

From the project’s outset, stakeholders likely have their own pie-in-the-sky expectation of what the project will deliver, and it may be divorced from the reality of what can be accomplished given limited resources. Weed out misconceptions and get on the same page during project planning. That includes getting on the same page with your team too; everyone must share the same vision. Then create separate kick-off meetings for the team and for stakeholders, ensuring in both cases that everyone understands their responsibilities, project timelines, project metrics, risk management strategies, and reporting requirements, among other factors. A formal communication plan will be helpful as well.

To really minimize the odds of disappointing anyone (and of taking on an impossible amount of work), under-promising and over-delivering is the go-to strategy. This way, stakeholders are satisfied in the worst case and pleasantly surprised in the best case. And lastly, about personal expectations, Windsor says this:

As a project manager, you must share your expectations with your team.

Be transparent about the standard of deliverables, communication requirements, responsibility for risk management and so on. Let the team know what success looks like and how you will reach this goal together.

Be clear about feedback mechanisms and processes for addressing poor performance. Expecting your team to deliver without any direction or guidance is simply unfair and will yield poor results.

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