Managing expectations is an underutilized skill, but mastering it is crucial to a successful contractor relationship.  Many contractual agreements fail to meet objectives due to a misalignment of expected outcomes or requirements. Follow these practical tips to enhance your capability to handle and manage expectations with your contractors.

Communication

Communication is the first thing to master. Clearly delineating project parameters, budgets, materials, schedules, and other specifics up front and then repeating them throughout the process is crucial to obtaining the desired result. Communications often proves challenging, especially with team members in different time zones and geographies. Maintain open lines of communication and address questions and concerns in a timely manner. To ensure success, clarify lines of direct communications, regular meeting schedules, and reporting and software requirements.

Context

Always ensure that all parties involved fully understand project’s context and overall goal. Never assume that a contractor fully understands all the details or even the contextual vision for the project. While you shouldn’t second guess a contractor with whom adequate communication and trust are not an issue, care should nevertheless be taken to cover even seemingly obvious items with all involved. Whenever in doubt, get it in writing!

Feedback

An important part of handling expectations is remaining true to those expectations. If a contractor misses the mark, provide immediate feedback to realign expectations. At the same time, invest the necessary thought and planning into your expectations to ensure they are realistic and feasible. Using honest feedback to keep the project aligned with these reasonable expectations is a vital part of the contractor relationship. Corrections may be necessary from time to time. The sooner the better.

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