When I was young, my sisters and I would spend months preparing our Christmas wish list. We would wait for the Sears and Roebuck Christmas Catalog to arrive.
Yes, I said catalog. Before the internet and online shopping, we would flip through the printed pages of catalogs instead of going to the store to purchase items.
The Christmas Catalog, better known as the Wish Book, was produced annually. The catalog was filled with glossy, colorful pages of the latest and best toys. When the catalog arrived, it was the talk of the neighborhood. Every kid was excited to scourer through the pages.
My sisters and I would work out a system for marking our items. Then, we would spend the next two months pouring over the pages. I must have looked at the book at least 50 times before finalizing my list. Once my list was finalized, I would rewrite it in my best handwriting and present it to my mother. To make sure she got my list right, I would include every detail from the catalog, including the page number.
Over the next few months, my friends and I would spend hours sharing and talking about our lists. Although I had released my list, I would go back look at the book to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. I would take every opportunity to explain why the items on the list were critical to my happiness.
Of course, my mother had a tough job trying to manage my expectations, so I wouldn’t be disappointed. Although I am sure she knew what she could afford to purchase, she never stifled our enthusiasm. She would listen and ask probing questions, while reminding us not be selfish or greedy.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, is watching your every move. As the new leader you will have about a 90 day grace period. Therefore, you must quickly learn how navigate the waters of your organization.
The key to managing stakeholder expectations is communication. It is important when you communicate, to be clear, realistic, and inclusive. Transparency will build trust and establish you as a leader. Seek to understand by asking purposeful questions, and speak with confidence to create an environment of trust. The last thing is to manage outcomes by removing obstacles, engaging in the process, and celebrating progress.
After months of anticipation, Christmas Day would arrive. We would get up very early and race downstairs to open our presents. As I opened my gifts, I noticed some were on my list and others were not, which made the experience extra special. While I didn’t receive everything on my list, my presents exceeded my expectations.
Now that you are in the chair, what steps will you take to manage stakeholder expectations?
Kim D. Moore
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