Managing Expectations and Preparing for Business Success

Are you starting your own business or improving your current operations? Read our tips on managing expectations for your team and your customers. 

When it comes to leading a team, creating clear guidelines helps any team work that much better. When it comes to maintaining customer relationships, transparency is a must. 

Being a business owner means wearing many hats, but the process can run more smoothly with expectation management.

What Does Managing Expectations Mean?

One of the qualities of a great leader is consistency. When your team and your customers know what they can expect from you, they are more likely to remain loyal. Creating a list of your own expectations for your business environment is essential to any well-run business.

Don’t regurgitate the same tired phrases used by every other business. Decide how you want your business to look. What will make you stand out? Let’s take a look at a few considerations below.

Team Expectations

As the leader of a team, it is your job to provide guidance to your employees. When your team has a roadmap for what is expected of them, they will feel more comfortable and confident in performing their role. Craft healthy expectations to align with your company culture.

Customer Expectations

Of course, acquiring and maintaining customers is vital to your business’ success. Customers who have a positive experience with your business are more likely to return. Run your business from the inside out. How will you meet people’s expectations regarding your business? Examine what your company does and how your team can best meet the expectations of others.

Six Tips for Managing Team Expectations

Set Objectives

When it comes to objectives, they are two-fold. Setting an overall team goal can inspire your employees to work together to achieve a greater outcome. In addition to that, setting individual goals with employees allows them to focus on something that they’d like to strive for in their position. 

Employees like to feel as though they have an active role in their careers. When employees have a purpose, it helps them focus on the bigger picture (their overall career goals). That kind of positivity can’t help but spread over into other areas of the business.

Keep in mind that when setting team and individual objectives, they need to be measurable accomplishments in order to monitor and further progress. 

Map Out Expectations Early

As soon as an employee begins their new job, they should be introduced to the current expectations at work. The best way to ensure this happens consistently with each new team member is to create an onboarding process. 

If each employee completes the same onboarding process that includes the ins and outs of business expectations, the more likely they are to be successful because they have direction from the start. 

This will promote quality assurance and employee empowerment among your team members. Check in with employees often to tweak goals as needed.

Measurability Is Crucial

Again, the objectives set must be measurable. If they are not, there is no real way to track progress. When creating quantifiable goals with your team, you will need a baseline and a time-based check-in. 

A baseline will allow the employee to see where they started. Time frames will provide structure. When an objective is measurable, team members are able to see growth at each check-in, continue to measure progress, and feel empowered throughout the process. 

Motivate Your Employees

Being a great leader is not just about giving orders. It means inspiring and motivating your team

Methods for motivating your team include:

  • Giving credit where credit is due
  • Encouraging autonomy
  • Creating goals 
  • Providing support when necessary
  • Leading by example

Provide Feedback Opportunities

Part of setting objectives includes assessing those objectives. Creating a schedule for performance reviews is a great way to create a healthy relationship and help your team grow. 

Feedback should include a balance of addressing improvements to be made or reframing a focus, as well as highlighting strengths and successes. Your team members will appreciate guidance on how to grow and the encouragement from their leader. 

Hold Employees Accountable 

Making employees accountable for their actions doesn’t equal micromanagement. Frequent meetings regarding goals and expectations go a long way to helping employees hit their targets. Consistent, regular feedback keeps surprises down to a minimum. 

Be a good role model. Follow up on the things you say you will do and expect the rest of your team to do the same. Be firm yet thoughtful. Revise goals as needed to meet the changes within your growing company.

Six Tips for Managing Customer Expectations

Prepare and Sign a Written Agreement

A written agreement can be as large as a formal contract or as small as a disclaimer notification. Either way, it is important that your customer understands what to expect from your business. 

When you have a written agreement between you and your customer, it serves as an acknowledgment of consent from them and protection for you. It’s a win-win for both sides.

Explain All the Processes in Detail

Human beings don’t like guesswork. In this age of information, customers want to understand each step of their journey with your business. 

For example, if you run an online business that offers shipping, customers will want to receive:

  • Order confirmation
  • Shipping confirmation
  • Tracking number
  • Delivery updates

When you keep your customers informed, they will appreciate the transparency. It can help reduce the load on customer service in the process.

Underpromise and Overdeliver

As we just mentioned, customers love to be informed. However, sometimes you might be playing a bit of a guessing game. When dealing with shipping and an uncertain supply chain, it’s always better to underpromise.

To stick with the shipping example, when your online business receives a purchase order, your customer will want to know when to expect their delivery. If you promise them four-day delivery, but their order takes five or six days, the customer will not be happy.

However, if you promise them four-day delivery, and their order takes two or three days, the customer will be excited about their package’s early arrival. Make your promises attainable.

Communicate Regularly and Truthfully

Nobody likes to be deceived or left in the dark. This is true of your customers too. They appreciate communication and customer service. Own up to it if your business makes a mistake on a customer's order and find a way to fix it.

Your customer will appreciate your transparency, accountability, and dedication to their satisfaction. Don’t just communicate your mistakes. Small acts of customer appreciation like follow-up emails, discount opportunities, or birthday messages go a long way. 

Customers should not only hear from you when something goes wrong, but they should also associate your business with positivity. 

Interview and Record Expectations

Collecting customer feedback is a huge opportunity for the growth of your business. Customer experience is a huge factor in business success, so it’s important to understand what your consumer thinks. 

A great way to learn the minds of your customers is to conduct surveys and interviews. Ask them about their experience, what they liked, and how your team can improve their service. Record those results and use them to step up your game. 

Keep Your Estimates Realistic

Keeping your estimates realistic can build trust in customer relationships. Be honest with your customer, even if it means it’s not the answer they are looking for. That’s where good communication skills come in handy.

Let’s say you run a restaurant that serves seasonal fruit with meals. In December, a customer asks you when you will have strawberries back on the menu. If you know strawberries will not be ripe until late spring or early summer, do not give that customer unrealistic expectations.

Customers want you to be real with them so they know what to expect. 


Whether it’s your team or your customers, creating and managing high expectations will help you on the road to success. When parties know what you expect of them or what they are getting from your business, it allows them to feel a sense of autonomy and comfort. 

Set expectations early and manage them often. 


SMART Goals: A How to Guide ⎸University of California

How to Motivate Employees: 5 Data-Backed Tips for Managers⼁Northeastern University

10 Smart Ways To Collect And Utilize Customer Feedback ⎸Forbes

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