Something I have had to learn to do over the last couple of months as I embrace the “nomad” life is to manage expectations as I transition from a stable home life to a life on the road. During nearly two months I have learned a lot – that travel ALWAYS takes longer than you think or plan for. That you won’t get access to your accommodation when you want it. Or the wifi won’t play nicely.
So when I talk to clients about booking their time with me it has always been on the understanding that I may have to be slightly flexible with timings – maybe half an hour earlier or later – and that has worked well. It works because I don’t try to stuff my calendar too full with appointments that cannot be moved.
Clients are happy, as long as they know what’s happening.
As I have travelled I have noticed that most airlines and rail companies are pretty poor at managing expectations. Sometimes they will tell you of a delay in advance, sometimes you just realise that the expected departure time has come and gone and there is no train!
Whether or not they fear angry travellers if they announce a delay, I think most of us would rather be kept informed.
Sometimes they get it right – an EasyJet pilot told us (from the safety of the cockpit) that we had missed our slot and so we would have to wait for 90 minutes on the tarmac. How happy were we when it was only 25 minutes! Under-promise and over-deliver – a key message.
I am a firm believer in being upfront with people and letting them know when changes may have to be made – whether that’s the deadline for a project, or that their meal will be another 15 minutes. In general we do like to know, and in many situations if we do know we can take action, and in the case of missing a project deadline it might enable a client to change other priorities.
It’s all about accountability, and trust. Sometimes we think that if we brush problems under the carpet no one will notice, but of course the opposite is true. If a client feels that you are being less than upfront with them then trust is eroded.
Holding your hands up and letting people know what is happening builds trust.
Remember the marbles in the jar (Brene Brown) – trust is built up little by little – but it can be swept away all in one go if people no longer have confidence in you. And that can happen easily if you don’t manage their expectations.
As always, if you would like to talk more then please do Get in touch.
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