Communicating Expectations

All too often, there is miscommunication within an office about job expectations, company goals and objectives, or other important company-wide messages.  We’ve discovered that communicating expectations effectively has improved our business delivery model, and have captured some of the key areas where clarification of intent has benefited us in the end.

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Although mind reading would be nice, it is only found in science fiction.   A boss may have expectations for a project and get upset when an employee does not fulfill those expectations with the finished product because a lack of communication.  In reality, the boss has no reason to expect anything more than what they tell an employee to do.
Communication is important when it comes to working with groups of people. If someone gives you a project, they have an idea of how they want it to turn out.  Be sure you understand what their expectations are and how they see it coming to life. As the project leader or supervisor, you should clearly describe how you want a project to be finished and what that finished product will look like, providing as much detail as possible.  For example, are you looking for a report, a presentation, some data presented in tables or graphs?  Do you want bullet points or paragraphs?  High level summary or exhaustive details? Where does it fit in the priority list?  Is it for public consumption (going to another area, or customer) or is it for internal only (the phrasing, language, and insights may be different).

Concrete steps to Communicating Expectations:

Consider these tips and maybe you will save yourself time making corrections after projects have been
  • Be specific in initial meetings – spend your time laying out context and final vision as well as tasks.
  • Clearly describe your expectations for the project – timing, deliverables, etc.
  • Have progress meetings during a project to look at the work that has been produced so far, and make mid-course corrections if needed.
  • Do not assume that your employees know what you want – be specific, and if possible, lay it out “on paper” so they can refer to it later – an email summary, a sketch, etc.
  • Understand that people approach tasks differently and may not do it the way you want without specific instruction.  Try to allow for this flexibility and not micro-manage the project.
 By providing clear expectations of the final delivery, and reviewing work-in-progress, your chances of getting your final product in the format and time-frame you specify is improved.