Expectation management: What to do when you’re not on track to meet a goal
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Here at Sevans Strategy we’re doing several learning exercises with our interns this summer. Our current learning opportunity involves “client expectations management” on a tight turnaround project with an aggressive goal. (In our exercise the “client” is Sevans Strategy.)
After sending a learning recap email to the team this afternoon, I thought I’d share it publicly, too. Here’s what we’re learning –
When managing expectations with a client, it’s essential to do the following before a project begins:
- Confirm the goal may not be met if current tactics are continued.
- Review the current tactic list and evaluate what is and what is not working.
- Brainstorm with other team members (if there’s time and applicable) to come up with a game plan.
- Update the publicity plan with new tactics and “strikethrough” any tasks eliminated.
- Seek final approval from project lead (or appropriate chain of command) before reaching out to the client.
- Proactively contact the client. It’s always better to show you’re aware of it first and that you’re working to correct it. Let them know exactly what you’re changing and what results you hope to get.
- Stay in regular contact with the client. If it’s only a week-long campaign, they should receive daily updates from you on current results.
- Still not on track? If you’ve exhausted all efforts, go the proactive route again. This time it may mean changing up the expectations. Look at what results you’re getting and what a realistic outcome will be in the time you have left. Debrief with your internal team before scheduling a PHONE CALL or FACE-TO-FACE meeting with the client.
- Plan a debrief meeting with the internal team at the end of the project. This should be done within one (1) to three (3) days after the campaign ends. During this meeting you will discuss what worked, what didn’t, and what you would do different next time.
- Record and archive the feedback so you can use next time. THE PROJECT LEAD SHOULD INITIATE THIS MEETING.
This is our starting point. What would you offer or add to the list?