is trump failing to manage expectations

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OK – we’re going to talk about a certain president across the pond who’s making huge tidal waves, never mind ripples, in his country. We’re not going to mention his politics, but simply use him and his way of doing things as an example of managing expectations – both good and bad.

When you’re managing people, be it in a relatively small organisation or in charge of the world’s most-powerful country, how you approach things should be the same so you don’t create ripples in the previously smooth water. You might not instantly get the metaphor, but the problem with ripples is that they spread from their source all the way to the shore whether they’re in a puddle, pond, lake or ocean. Manage expectations poorly and ripples of discontent will work their through your entire organisation quickly, which isn’t good for anyone.

Being clear is key. People thrive on clarity. They need to understand what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it. Think about President Trump here – he’s done exactly what he said he would, so he’s ticked that particular managing expectations box. What he’s done wrong (ethics and morality aside) is to blunder headlong into his actions without fully understanding them.

This is a classic case of not managing expectations properly. Before you start doing something, have you considered how it should be done properly? Are the right people in place? Is the infrastructure good enough? What are the long-term benefits or consequences to your actions?

Sometimes people at the top of organisations assume the people around them know everything to do with a particular task or action. And that’s when the problems can start. People have a natural fear of failure, and don’t want to look stupid in front of the boss, so they don’t seek clarity if they don’t fully understand something. We covered this a bit ago when we talked about the emperor’s new clothes.

If the clarity isn’t there to start with, something’s bound to go wrong. People will start to blame others for their failures too, causing even bigger ripples in the water.

To successfully manage expectations you need to be realistic with others. Set a timescale that’s workable. Let people know what you want rather than what you don’t want, and think about the effect your actions will have on others. Remember how you felt at school when your hard work came back covered in red ink? Don’t make others experience that just because they don’t know as much as you do.

This brings us onto the next point: managing your own expectations. Others might have a different way of doing things from you. It doesn’t mean their wrong – they just have different expectations from you. You also need to encourage them to challenge or question you when required. Also consider what’s needed rather than what you want as they’re often not the same.

Whatever you do in your organisation, don’t be a Trump and keep the ripples to a minimum by managing expectations properly. It takes understanding, clarity and confidence. Consider the effects on others your actions might have. Consult before you start if you need to and arm yourself with as much information as possible. It’s okay to change your mind as long as you still manage expectations for all concerned.

Now. About that wall…