How Do You Successfully Manage Expectations?

How Do You Successfully Manage Expectations?

Navigating major transitions requires adept management of stakeholder expectations, a skill these nine executives have mastered. From implementing clear communication strategies to managing crisis with updates and expanded services, Managing Directors share their successful tactics. Discover how these leaders have kept stakeholders aligned and engaged during pivotal changes.

  • Implement Clear Communication Strategies
  • Embrace Honesty and Celebrate Wins
  • Prioritize Over-Communication and Relationship-Building
  • Align Expectations with Transparent Updates
  • Involve Stakeholders in the Transition Process
  • Communicate, Set Expectations, and Recognize Contributions
  • Engage Stakeholders and Solicit Feedback
  • Ensure Transparency and Active Listening
  • Manage Crisis with Updates and Expanded Services

Implement Clear Communication Strategies

We recently implemented a new CRM system to streamline consultant information, client leads, and deals. During this implementation, regular and constant communication was crucial. We provided multiple written and verbal communications to the consultants on how to upload their information into the system. We've continued to regularly communicate on the forms they must complete when deals are won. Short training videos were created for our internal team so they could go back and review the step-by-step guidance when they forgot how to do something in the system.

We're now moving into phase two of the project, which will include a self-service portal for clients to identify consultants for their HR/OD projects, trainers, facilitators, and speakers. Once this site is ready to go live, we'll have another communication and marketing campaign to get people using and familiar with the tools available.

Amanda Haddaway
Amanda HaddawayManaging Director, HR Answerbox

Embrace Honesty and Celebrate Wins

It was a big change when we shifted our focus from general marketing to financial-services marketing. To keep everyone on the same page, we communicated early and clearly about why we were making the change and what it meant for the future. We adjusted our messages for different groups. Employees were concerned about job security, so we focused on training and growth opportunities. Clients worried about their service, so we assured them we would continue to meet their needs.

We didn't sugarcoat the challenges. We were honest about the difficulties but emphasized that we had a solid plan. We listened to feedback from everyone and adjusted our plans as needed. Celebrating small wins along the way helped keep everyone motivated. By talking openly, being honest, and celebrating successes, we managed this major change smoothly and kept our stakeholders engaged and supportive.

Shane McEvoy
Shane McEvoyMD, Flycast Media

Prioritize Over-Communication and Relationship-Building

I was serving as a CFO for a 65-employee manufacturing organization when a private equity investor forced a recruitment and transition to a new CEO. Like with many things in life, the actual transition was fluid. However, in retrospect, these elements contributed to the organization's successful transition to the new leadership. First, a clear view on who the stakeholders were for me as a CFO. I had the BOD, equity investors/PE group, founders, lenders, the new CEO, finance team, and a larger group of employees. Second, over-communication. Once the stakeholders were clear, I made it my priority for the first 100 days to have weekly updates/touch points with each and kept everyone in the loop of the transition progress. I spent a disproportionate amount of time with the new CEO and helped her come up to speed with the organization and be a communication conduit with select stakeholders. Third, initially, no goals, just relationships—after the first 90 days, clear goals, strategies, execution. This was counterintuitive, but in retrospect, it was important that the new CEO built rapport within the organization before laying out the strategy, goals, and tactics. Per Steven Covey, diagnose first. And I kept bringing up this recommendation in my conversations with the CEO. We managed the investors' expectations but were able to build the groundwork for better execution after the CEO's first 90 days in the office. Fourth, a two-way street on feedback. While engaging with stakeholders, we listened to what folks had to say—not just push the information their way in a one-way flow. We incorporated feedback from rank and file into strategies and goals, and it felt like we had more alignment from folks when it came down to execution.

Aleksey Krylov
Aleksey KrylovManaging Director, FTERA Advisors LLC

Align Expectations with Transparent Updates

Successfully managing stakeholder expectations during a major transition involves clear communication, proper documentation, setting realistic goals, and providing regular updates. During a significant shift at MEF Consulting, I informed all stakeholders about the changes and their potential impact. I provided regular progress reports and transparent communication to help align expectations and maintain trust. This approach fostered collaboration and minimized resistance, ensuring a smoother transition.

Mario Facusse
Mario FacusseManaging Director, MEF Consulting

Involve Stakeholders in the Transition Process

At Innovate, managing stakeholder expectations was vital when transitioning from a traditional web design firm to a comprehensive digital and design agency. We started by setting up clear, continuous communication channels to inform all stakeholders, including clients, employees, and partners, about the changes and expected outcomes.

We provided regular updates and engaged stakeholders through workshops and Q&A sessions to address concerns and incorporate their feedback. This open dialogue helped demystify the process and ensured stakeholders felt involved and valued.

Additionally, we established clear, measurable goals for the transition and shared our progress regularly. This demonstrated our commitment to transparency and allowed stakeholders to see real-time progress and understand any challenges we faced.

By maintaining open lines of communication and involving stakeholders in the process, we successfully managed expectations, fostering trust and support throughout the transition. This approach was instrumental in smoothly implementing our new service offerings and technologies at Innovate.

Daniel Bunn
Daniel BunnManaging Director, Innovate

Communicate, Set Expectations, and Recognize Contributions

How I successfully manage stakeholder expectations during a major transition; this has included department and company restructures, workplace relocations, changes in company leadership teams, and the implementation of new company values.

1. Communicate early and often, providing clear and transparent updates throughout the process.

2. Identify and engage all key stakeholders, ensuring their voices are heard and concerns are addressed.

3. Set realistic expectations by outlining potential challenges and timelines from the outset.

4. Develop a structured change-management plan, sharing it with stakeholders to build confidence.

5. Demonstrate empathy and actively listen to stakeholder feedback, adapting plans when necessary.

6. Provide regular progress reports, highlighting both successes and areas needing improvement.

7. Empower stakeholders by involving them in decision-making processes where appropriate.

8. Celebrate milestones and recognize contributions to maintain morale and momentum.

Kelly Tucker
Kelly TuckerManaging Director , HR Star Consulting Ltd

Engage Stakeholders and Solicit Feedback

Don't tell and sell. Instead, listen and involve your key stakeholders. Learn what's important to them by specifically asking, not assuming or taking their perspective. By getting their perspectives and engaging them in conversations along the way, you're much better positioned to confirm that you're on the right track with proposed changes and can then move forward.

For example, a few years ago, a national membership organization realized it needed to update its governance structure to be more in tune with how the members had evolved and were providing health care to patients in the communities they served. The organization set up a task force representing the members and charged the task force to design a new structure and report back to members.

Before jumping into the work, the task force took the time to figure out how to best serve the varied interests of the members and plan an approach. We, the task force members, decided that we needed to listen closely to the members and involve them throughout the process. We started by first conducting a survey, asking members about their priorities and concerns. We next summarized the results and the implications as we interpreted them. The content we shared was our first in a series of "transparency memos."

Once we confirmed we were on the right track and had the members' buy-in, we started designing the new structure. At least once a month, we issued a new transparency memo updating our progress and asking for feedback.

Once we had a working framework for a new structure, we invited members to in-person "membership engagement meetings" to share our work in progress and solicit their detailed input. After confirming that the task force was on the right track, we finalized our approach and then asked for members to review and give any comments.

After we heard back, we confirmed the approach and submitted it for a vote of members. Members unanimously approved the new structure. Five years later, the organization continues to operate effectively with this structure, which members have tweaked a few times.

Liz Guthridge
Liz GuthridgeManaging Director , Connect Consulting Group

Ensure Transparency and Active Listening

When we transitioned to a more digital-focused operation, it was a major shift for our company, and managing our stakeholders' expectations was important.

At first, there was a lot of opposition, especially from our long-term suppliers and some team members who were not tech-savvy. The challenge was to ensure everyone was on board and understood the benefits. I held several informal meetings where I shared the vision and the potential growth opportunities.

Moreover, transparency was key; I provided regular updates on the progress and the hurdles we faced. What really helped in thinking of solutions that worked for everyone was making sure to actively listen to each of their concerns. It wasn’t easy, but by being open and adaptable, we managed to transition smoothly without losing the trust of our stakeholders. The experience taught me the importance of clear communication and empathy during change.

Danilo Miranda
Danilo MirandaManaging Director, Presenteverso

Manage Crisis with Updates and Expanded Services

During COVID, it was an exceptionally difficult time for most business owners, but for me in particular. We faced huge challenges, where we lost almost 80% of our client base overnight. When the lockdowns started, most clients permanently canceled their cleaning services.

We pivoted to a comprehensive strategy to manage our stakeholder expectations and ensure survivability for our business and employees during this difficult time.

Here's how we did it.

We made sure to provide daily updates to our cleaning teams, clients, and vendors on the actions we were taking to ensure we could clean safely.

We prioritized the welfare of our cleaning teams and client base, whereby we would pay our cleaners a minimum basic wage for jobs canceled and never forced them to work if they felt they were at risk of infection from COVID.

Once the total number of cases started to drop, we reached out to old clients to see if they would be interested in restarting their cleans at a discount.

We advised them of the steps we were taking to keep them, their households, and our employees safe, and we launched targeted marketing campaigns to onboard new clients with a focus on letting them know that we were reliable and looked after our existing employees during that difficult time period.

We increased our service offering to include sanitization and disinfection as standard for our service, not just cleaning.

Even though we sacrificed short-term profits by paying a minimum viable wage to our non-working employees, we were able to keep our staff while other companies were losing their staff to other industries.

These efforts paid off, and we have tripled our revenue since COVID while still holding onto the cleaners that we paid a minimum viable wage to.

I hope this helps.

Delah Gomasi
Delah GomasiManaging Director and CEO, MaidForYou

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