How to Set Expectations When Managing a Project…

Managing the expectations of a wide range of stakeholders is one of the biggest challenges you can face as a project manager. But it’s a critical skill to develop—directly addressing misalignment of expectations can have tangible benefits, including reducing safety incidents and increasing productivity. Here are some strategies you can use to close the expectations gap.

  • Consider the root of everyone’s expectations. To prevent conflict and confusion, collectively set goals at the outset, and understand what it will take to meet key performance indicators (KPIs). Equally important is continually reevaluating these goals as the project moves along.
  • Don’t take sides. As the project manager, your job is to find the common ground of all your stakeholders.
  • Foster relationships with your team. Project management requires a significant level of emotional intelligence. The more people trust you and feel psychologically safe, the more comfortable they’ll feel to speak up when issues inevitably arise.
  • Build a project structure that’s sturdy but flexible. Even the most well-organized projects can go awry. A project’s structure needs to be sturdy enough to move forward, but nimble enough to adapt when timelines and expectations shift. The easiest way to do this is to break projects down into small, functional steps.
  • Keep the team grounded in an overall vision. Collective purpose is one of the strongest human motivators. Establish it early and keep it top of mind—especially if competing stakeholders lose sight of that overall mission as the project progresses.

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