I simply did not understand how my customers could expect all this extra work.
It made no sense that my employees were making rudimentary mistakes.
How was I on such a different page than my customers and employees?
Were they just bad customers?
Was my team just incompetent? Did I do a terrible job hiring good people?
All this was going through my head throughout the first few months of leading a team and delivering to clients.
Are there bad customers? Sure, there are a few – very few – people who are just looking for significance and will not be satisfied.
That’s not the root issue though, most people are fantastic and want everything to go smoothly.
Are there incompetent employees? Of course, there are plenty.
There are also an abundance of A-player employees that want to over deliver and crush it in their role.
All people problems come down to disagreement.
Every. Single. One.
All disagreement comes down to miscommunication.
You probably already knew all of that. So here’s where the real, actionable part comes in. Expectation setting solves all of this.
If I set crystal clear expectations with my team, from the moment they come on board, the chances of frustration, and unmet promises (even if the promises were just gray areas) are significantly decreased.
Now, I am crystal clear with team members on what I expect from them and what they can expect from me.
If I am vividly clear with my customers, by telling them:
- Here is what you can expect me to do….
- Here is what not to expect me to do….
- Here is what I expect from you to maximize our results….
- Here are the results to expect….
- Here are the results not to expect….
…then I will demolish the large majority of disagreements and conflicting agendas with my customers. DEMOLISH them. Before they even happen.
Being collectively exhaustive has had a massive impact on my communication with customers. That means cover everything.
I’ll even let my customers know when setting expectations before an engagement,
“Hey John, I’m going to be super vivid with expectations, so that we’re on the same page”.
That way they don’t think I’m babying them. Because I’m not. I’m putting us both in a position to win.
I love to crush the misunderstandings before the project or engagement starts. It builds credibility and trust right out of the gate.
Here’s the bonus – at this point you can cancel the engagement with that 1% of customers that is difficult to deal with, unrealistic, and impossible to satisfy.
Crystal-like Clarity + Vivid expectations + An A-Player Team + The Right Customers =
It’s worth the upfront communication to avoid the stress and time-wasting later on.
Even more so it’s worth it because you will build incredible relationships with your team and your employees, some that will last a lifetime.
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