The Tools We Will Explore Today
 Expectations
 When do we set expectations?
 Why set expectations?
 What types of expectations should be set?
 Who do we set expectations for?
 How do we set clear expectations?
 Managing Expectations
 A 3-step process
When To Set Expectations
 Always set clear expectations with consultants and agencies:
 with any change in role and responsibilities
 when assigning a new project
 Set clear expectations at the beginning and end of all meetings,
whether they are one-on-one or group meetings.
 Whenever we expect others to take action, it’s important we
set clear expectations.
Why Expectations Are Set
 Assuming that people should know what’s expected of them –
and therefore we don’t have to tell them is unfair to the
individual, to the team, and to the organization.
 Sometimes we’re not clear about the desired outcomes
ourselves, so setting clear expectations has the added benefit
of helping us to focus on desired outcomes.
Photo by Minnesota Department of Transportation
What Types of Expectations
 Expectations should be clearly stated and communicated
thoroughly with consultants and community agencies.
 Set-up a bi-weekly staff meetings to submit expense reports
within a specified time frame (tasks).
 Direct reports should not triangulate and to resolve differences
directly with the people involved (relationships).
Who Expectations Are Set For
 The simple answer is to set expectations whenever we ask
another person or a group to take action. This would include:
 direct reports,
 team members,
 peers, and manager.
 Also include people who provide products and services, such as
suppliers and consultants.
How To Set Clear Expectations
 Be clear and specific with ourselves about what we expect
 Always include timelines
 Decide whether to set expectations verbally, in writing, or both
 Communicate in a clear, non-fuzzy, direct manner
 Use language that will be understood and be aware of body language
 Check for understanding by asking for a recap, either verbal or
How To Set Clear Expectations
 Confirm new understanding
 Clarify, if necessary
 Ask for commitment
 Hold people accountable for keeping the commitments they
 Follow-up on a regular basis
Photo by Minnesota Department of Transportation
3-Step Process For Managing
 While we can’t quantify project expectations into simple
numbers, we can attempt to better define them and plan to
communicate them in a consistent, objective way. Author John
Serri proposes the following proactive three-step approach:
 1. Gauge the client's expectations at the start of the project,
and attempt to define/refine them into as simple as possible
terms everyone will understand.
2. After the initial expectations are agreed upon, set and
possibly reset the expectations of the project to reach a
uniform consensus between the client and the
implementation team.
3. Once expectations are base-lined set out to meet or
exceed them. Manage change in a clear, agreed-to, nosurprises manner consistent with expectations
3-Step Flow
 The Process of Managing Expectations
Assess the
Expectations vs.
Establish the
Baseline with
your client
• Manage change- avoid surprises
Meet the
3-Step Process
 Step 1: Assess Expectations
No two projects are ever quite the same, given the variability
of MnDOT and the implementation team. Therefore, what may
have worked well for one project may fail with another.
The first thing that sets the stage is dealing with the hand
you're dealt. Just like playing cards, there can be tremendous
variability in what is initially handed to the consulting team. In
some cases, you may be dealing with an inexperienced client
who may have glossed over some details in the interest of
closing the deal.
3-Step Process
 Step 1: Assess Expectations
 Here are a few recommendations:
 Ensure the implementation team is involved. The initial
contract should be carefully reviewed by the consulting
team to ensure it accurately reflects the needed effort and
outcome and does not contain built-in unrealistic
expectations. The first place to assess expectations is within
the initial contractual documentation.
 As early as possible have an internal meeting that includes
both your implementation team and the sales team to
discuss the current client expectation level. Identify the risks
and establish a checklist of critical areas. Then gauge the
expectations for each. Identify areas where there is likely to
be an expectation-to-reality mismatch.
3-Step Process
 Step 2: Establish Appropriate Expectations
 With the assessment completed, come up with a plan on
how best to deal with client expectations. Once the internal
expectation plan is completed, address it head-on with your
client. This is an integral part of establishing a solid project
plan and trust with your client. As part of that plan, address
the expectations through clear documentation. Work to
come to an agreement on what both sides can expect and
ensure that various project documents to be developed,
such as specifications, project plans and schedules are inline with expectations.
3-Step Process
 Step 2: Establish Appropriate Expectations
During the discovery phase of the project have an expectation
setting meeting. This won’t make anyone comfortable, but it
will help you deal directly with these issues head on. Be sure to
document the results of the discussion and make it an integral
part of the project management documentation.
3-Step Process
 Step 3: Meet or Exceed the Expectation Baseline
 Now that Steps 1 and 2 have been completed, it's time to
ensure the mutually agreed upon, realistic expectations are
met. This is the essence of good project management. Here are
a few things to consider:
 Eliminate any potential surprises – if there are any surprises
they need to be in the form of good news that will further
build goodwill with the client.
 Bad things can happen. If they do, deliver the bad news
promptly and openly as much as possible, when possible.
 Follow the project plan and project specifications and treat
them as a way to combat selective memory; manage change
by referencing these documents.
 Adhere to a change control process and stick to it — despite
temptations to do otherwise. This is the most effective way
to keep expectations from getting out of hand in a complex
 Unrealistic client expectations are some of the major
challenges implementation consultants face, and projects can
often get derailed if they are not managed closely and
deliberately throughout the life cycle of the project. By
following this proactive three-step process, handling client
expectations becomes a much more manageable, less
emotional and subjective process, and creates a working
environment where everybody wins.
Photo by Minnesota Department of Transportation
The Tools We Explored Today
 Expectations
 When do we set expectations?
 Why set expectations?
 What types of expectations should be set?
 Who do we set expectations for?
 How do we set clear expectations?
 Managing Expectations
 A 3-step process
Sources and Resources
 Author: John Serri
 The Journal
 Nathan Wegner for the Urban and Regional Studies Institute at
Minnesota State University, Mankato