When managing change, expectations are like communicating vessels between current insight and future risks. Negotiate well, knowing that every future has more risks than you can imagine. It is a matter of convincing the sponsor.
Management of expectations is an issue that is always around when dealing with change. Expectations are not present in operational business management, because there is no future or long term aspect “present”. So there is no expectation.
If you are involved in activities and plans that are prone to insecurities you are dealing with expectations.
It is the change “manager” or everybody dealing with change who needs to negotiate in such an environment.
This could be done by means of a plan. First of all, a plan could serve as a means of communication and represents more than a document. With a plan you can discuss about activities and their priorities. A planning is a means to negotiate. A project manager will have to inflate this planning with a risk premium. This is looks like pricing the activities higher because you do not know the real outcome (or maybe the future value).
In this context you hear many times the saying: “Under-promise and Over-deliver”.
The more you are in the position of negotiating to the worse-case-scenario, the more you will be able to manage the expectations. You need to negotiate well, be serious, coming with sound reasons, but still negotiate and incorporate the risk premium. Experienced change managers or project managers, will apply this rule. When you are to takeover a project of someone else, make sure you have an intake where you add risks of extra insecurities you cannot oversee.
The downside of this is that if you are too extreme in negotiating the available space (money, time, quality) to manoeuvre, you might loose the project at all. In practice the external pressure will make it hard for you to negotiate. Yet where possible you should try it.
© 2005 Hans Bool
Hans Bool is the founder of Astor White a traditional management consulting company that offers online management advice. Astor Online solves issues in hours what normally would take days. You can apply for a free demo account