One key to proper project management is that of setting appropriate expectations. However, whether you have a formal project or not, setting expectations is a key element to various groups working together, especially when some of them are outsiders, such as myself.
Just this morning, I’d found a few things in my e-mail InBox and found myself responding with specific time-frames that I would respond back to people on each item, adding some qualifications to each. That got me thinking how important this is for working together.
I read this somewhere and have noticed it to be true – the person doing the work and the responding thinks they are doing the work and responding more quickly than they truly are -and- the person waiting for the work or response, because they are the one waiting, feels time going by more slowly than it is.
Pay attention when you’re on the receiving end of this and you’ll notice it more than if you’re the sender. That is why, as the person doing the work and telling someone when you’ll do it and what the progress is, you have to be a lot more conscientiousness about giving time-frames and keeping to them. If you’re going to miss your time-frame, you have to notify whomever is waiting for it as soon as you know there will be a problem.
Just the other day, someone at Thermo Fisher Scientific said to me that “customers don’t like surprises” and I’ve been thinking how true this is. I’ve known for quite a long time that that’s one reason that people come to do business with my small firm, GeoMetrick Enterprises, because I work hard to keep people I’m working with up-to-date on what I’m doing for them. I work to push them to do the same so that they stay on-track. Overall, when everyone can go back to management and talk about how on-time the work is going or at least have strong reasons why it’s not on-time, that makes it easier for everyone involved to justify costs and timelines.
Someone reading this is going to write to me to ask, “But Gloria, don’t you ever have something unexpected happen? Doesn’t your network ever crash in the middle of an important deadline? Don’t you ever mis-estimate the time work with take? Don’t you ever get too sick to do the work?” Yup. Absolutely!
Here’s the key, though: those things don’t happen that often. If on a daily basis you’re reliable and work toward staying on top of keeping people informed and on staying within stated deadlines, you won’t have many of those unexpected situations to deal with. Now, the truth about human beings is that we do tend to remember the bad things that happen – the time you mess up or something unexpected happens will seem greater in number than they are in comparison to the good things that happen. That’s why you have to really stay on-top of this. That way, if you can greatly outnumber the unexpected situations, you’ll still leave a good impression with the people you’re working with.