People often have high expectations for a project and what it will deliver for them.

Then, when the project fails to deliver in the way that they hoped it would, they are left with a feeling of frustration. This is because people often have high expectations for a project without understanding the project itself. It’s our job as project managers to address this.

In this post, we share some tips for managing expectations that will help you ensure that your expectations are realistic.

What are some ways to manage expectations? 

There are a few ways that you can manage expectations on a project.  

One way is to provide the client with an estimate of the time it will take to complete the project. Then, give a range of dates that you will complete the project. If you are not 100% sure how long it will take, then you should set rough deadlines and milestones for the project based on your discussions with the project team.  

Also, be flexible about timelines and expectations. It’s always a good idea to add a little bit of contingency to any planning. You might think it will take two weeks but it might actually take three. 

Another way is to have realistic expectations. For example, if you’re trying to build a completely new and complex IT system, don’t say that it will only take you one week. It’s important to be patient and keep your expectations realistic. 

Finally, sometimes it is better to just be straightforward and honest with your team. If you have a project that may not be as successful as you hoped, don’t try to hide the truth from your team.

You can also look at your project in a different way by thinking about what can go wrong and how you can avoid it. If you open up about issues and let your ‘outside the box thinkers’ run wild, the problems can often turn into ‘problems with solutions’.  

Our quick tips for managing expectations

You’ve been working on a long-term project for a while and you’re getting close to the end. You may be feeling a lot of pressure to complete it properly and on time. Here are some tips for managing expectations when working on a project: 

  1. Set realistic expectations
  2. Set a timeline that fits your project
  3. Keep your team on track
  4. Reward your team for completing milestones
  5. Keep everyone updated with progress, no matter how negative 
  6. Offer praise for those who have done well
  7. Never underestimate the power of group work
  8. Look for patterns in the work that you are doing
  9. Look for the best ways to approach the project
  10. Choose your words carefully and be clear
  11. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
  12. Don’t be afraid to reevaluate your expectations
  13. Learn to let go of your ego
  14. Try to be open-minded about the project
  15. Seek out new perspectives

Bonus tips for managing expectations:  

  1. Be clear about what a project is and what it isn’t
  2. Avoid saying “I’ll try” when the request isn’t achievable
  3. Don’t be afraid to say “No”