How To Set Reasonable Expectations

One of the bigger problems that leaders have is learning to set reasonable expectations, both for themselves and for the groups that they lead. As a leader, it is easy to get caught up in thinking that every project will be a huge success and far exceed expectations. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, or even the norm. Setting unreasonable expectations and dealing with the inevitable failure can be heartbreaking for both leaders and their teams, and it is important to avoid this problem whenever possible. You want to maximize your company’s abilities and consistently improve, but you don’t want to create expectations that are nearly impossible to meet.

Try To Think Analytically, Not Emotionally

If you are learning to set reasonable expectations, the best thing that you can do is to leave your emotions at the door. Everyone wants to romanticize success and think about how good they will feel when they achieve it. But you shouldn’t do that, because what feels good isn’t always what’s reasonable. Think about your company’s employee talent level, your technology, your product—what is a reasonable success considering your resources?

What Is The Worst (And Best) Thing That Could Happen?

When gaming out scenarios and thinking about how your plan could work out, you may want to consider the best and worst thing that could happen. This helps you to evaluate risk and reward of a particular action. If you want to change vendors, but the downside is higher than the upside, then you might want to consider that move at a different time, or not at all.

Do You Have A Plan B?

One of the biggest problems that small businesses have is putting all their eggs in one basket. You never want to be a leader without a Plan B. Not having a fall back plan can lead to panic and a loss of confidence in your leadership, because it makes you seem as if you aren’t prepared.

Setting expectations should be something that you think about before you start on any project. Divorce yourself from your emotions and consider what the best and worst things that could happen are. Then start thinking of the most likely probabilities, and consider how you can optimize your chances at some of the best potential outcomes without being unreasonable. It is also critical to have a Plan B—something that you can rely on if things don’t work out. You definitely don’t want to set unreasonable expectations, but you also don’t want to be left out to dry without a second plan either. Setting expectations helps your team maintain both consistency and morale.

Regina Fasold, PCC
Executive Coach

Regina Fasold is a seasoned Executive Coach and Leadership Expert. Her extensive professional background and her 10+ years of experience as a Global Executive Coach have allowed her to assist over 300 senior executives in corporations throughout the United States and in over 25 countries around the world.

* Do Something Great image credit goes to: Clark Tibbs.

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