How to manage your expectations

Are your high expectations causing you grief? Here are tips for managaing expectations around family, colleagues and friends.

Expectations are like children: messy, rebellious and driven (and, often, blinded) by hope. The problem with letting the expectations of clients, colleagues or friends look after themselves is that untamed expectations can result in disappointment, blame games and lost accounts/jobs/bake-offs. Worse, you end up looking incompetent for not meeting the pie-in-the-sky goal they had in their head. Manage the, however, and you’ll stay in favour even when things don’t go to plan.


People often get into hot water when they assume a colleague, supplier or friend expects the same thing they do. Have a conversation in which you openly discuss what’s expected, how it might be accomplished, and how success will be measured. Remember to invite questions and agree to a list of what will be delivered, when.


Communicate with everyone regularly. In the early stages of a new project or as a deadline approaches, over-communicate. If you have a new team or new leadership that may not have developed trust in the team’s ability, it’s even more important.


By holding frequent check-ins during a project, you can provide real-time status updates and manage any delays, risks or challenges. When you’re proactively transparent in your communication, you have room to activate plan B if needed. Being honest about a hiccup is always better than over-promising and under-delivering.


Think of expectation like a ship (or car). It’s up to you to manoeuvre it, which can mean pushing back if expectations are unrealistic. To avoid sounding like negative Nancy or a non-team player, push back in a way that balances objectives with available resources. Again, being open is key.

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