Set Clear Expectations

If you don’t clearly communicate your expectations to your project team and stakeholders you will never have those expectations met. You must define standards for communication and performance and let your team know as early as possible what those expectations are. You must state your expectations to stakeholders explicitly and hold them accountable to those expectations.

In the absence of clear expectations teams and stakeholders will make assumptions about how they are to proceed. You, the project manager, must then compensate for any incorrect or conflicting assumptions which dilutes your effectiveness in managing the project.

Clarify your expectations at the outset of your project and you reduce the guesswork required by your team and stakeholders. This reduces the risk from miscommunication and standardizes the working model of the project for everyone involved. With clear expectations in place, team members will know the performance metrics they are being held accountable for. They will know how to communicate in the event of a crisis and they will know what the consequences are for failing to meet expectations.

Stakeholders will also be well served by understanding what is expected of them up font. They will realize the impact of bringing new or altered requirements to the table late in the project lifecycle. They will understand how back channel communications with project team members muddies the waters and endangers the project’s chances of success. The project manager that has clear expectations for their stakeholders spends less time on a project managing the consequences of unexpected stakeholder actions.

As the project manager you must set and hold yourself accountable to expectations. Without clearly defining your own scope within a project you will find yourself pulled in multiple conflicting directions. You will take on roles that you should not. You will perform tasks best left to stakeholders or team members. You will increase the risk to your project’s success by diverting your energies from the role you should be fulfilling. Set clear expectations for yourself and hold yourself accountable to them.

Setting clear expectations is a matter of effective planning and communication. Decide the expectations you have for your project team based on your past experience with running projects and the team members involved. Plan for the actions of stakeholders based on their actions on past projects. If you see conflicts in these expectations resolve them as part of your planning for the project.

Make sure your expectations are well thought out and streamlined before communicating them. Changing expectations once you’ve communicated them is more difficult than communicating them initially. It is rare that altered expectations will effectively override initial expectations. Most likely, team members and stakeholders will continue to operate from their initial understanding of expectations. Plan effectively when developing your expectations so you will not have to alter them mid project.

Team members and stakeholders will work towards meeting your expectations. They recognize your expertise in managing a project to successful completion and will direct their efforts towards the actions they understand you are expecting. Make sure their understanding is the result of careful planning and effective communication on your part or your project outcome will be in jeopardy.

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