By Sue Cloete-Hopkins
All too often I hear entrepreneurs talking about what they could have done differently when things go wrong: contracts running over time, employees not delivering properly, time wasted on documents that nobody needs, work being sent back, scrambling to meet deadlines, and general disgruntlement between team members and customers.
Blaming others only increases a sense of negativity which can contribute to more drama such as resignations, slanderous social media posts, customers not paying for work completed and mounting stress levels for all the parties concerned.
As an entrepreneur, the best thing to do is always own your business’s problems. If your team slips up, own the fact that they didn’t get the right guidance. If your customer doesn’t understand what you’ve delivered, own the fact that there was a breakdown in communication. Owning problems gives you the opportunity to evaluate the full chain of events that led to the issue so you can ensure that any weaknesses are identified and rectified going forward.
I’ve found that most weaknesses boil down to the fact that expectations are not properly managed. How many times, as entrepreneurs, have we heard “but I thought …”?
The opportunity to assess these types of misunderstandings can prove invaluable. It is the start of process creation; the point at which the entrepreneur realises that the seamless delivery of products and services by staff to customers is not possible without managing expectations. And the management of expectations requires crystal-clear communication.
So, how do you, as an entrepreneur, own and manage expectations within your business, and how do you communicate them? Here are three tips that could prove helpful:
- Identify the critical processes in your business and document them from A to Z. Ensure that this documentation is read and understood by all your staff members. Regularly check to make sure that the processes are being correctly followed.
- Clarify each project’s timelines, milestone dates and customer feedback sessions with both your staff and your customer before commencing work.
- Most importantly, never assume anything.