How do you manage expectations?

A former colleague once told me that the key to happiness is managing expectations.

I don’t know about happiness, but I do know that managing expectations are the key to a successful project.

How do you manage expectations? Well, you ask people what they expect once you complete the work. The best way to do this is with persona statements. I use personas to gather basic requirements to understand why we’re doing something.

A persona statement looks like this:

As a [persona] I want to [intent] so that [outcome].

Persona statements allow all the stakeholders to have their voices heard. Let’s use this newsletter open as an example this week. In this instance, I’m playing two roles: CEO and content marketer.

As a CEO I want to write the newsletter open so that people understand what Trust Insights does.

As a content marketer, I want to write the newsletter open so that people engage in the newsletter.

Even though I’m the same person, I have different expectations depending on how I’m approaching the newsletter. So the question is, did I meet my own expectations?

A better example might be one that I was talking about with a friend this past weekend. Her company is migrating its martech stack from many disconnected platforms to one single platform. As expected, there are a lot of people involved in this kind of project and everyone has their own set of expectations.

My friend is going to be responsible for reporting and interpreting the data. Her persona would look something like this:

As a marketing manager, I want to migrate to a single platform, so that my reporting becomes more streamlined and accurate.

This is her expectation of the project. She won’t be responsible for running campaigns or nurturing leads through the pipeline. Those people will have different requirements for the new system. Gathering all the expectations is best done with persona statements. The more people involved in a project, the more expectations you’ll have to manage.

Who among us has been asked to do something vague by a stakeholder? When you turn the output around, the person who requested it says, “that’s not what I wanted”. Looking back, I wish I had pushed for clarity. I would not have been wasting my time creating things that didn’t meet expectations. I should have gotten persona statements.

Do you use persona statements? Pop into our free slack group and tell me about it!



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