Misaligned Expectations

Ok, let me start by saying this blog post isn’t about race or politics, although it will venture into those territories a bit.  You’ve been warned.

Last night in my daily email I mentioned that I was watching Luke Cage on Netflix.  I’m about four episodes in and it’s a good show, I like it.  I think the storytelling is a bit nonlinear which some people are criticizing a bit but I think that’s just a lame criticism – that says more about the person making the negative comments limited capacity to follow what’s going on.

But that’s not even the biggest complaint.

The biggest complaint about the show seems to be that there are very, very few white characters of note in the series.  The entire show revolves around a black superhero who lives in Harlem, the story is about a corrupt politician and her gangster cousin using race baiting to shake down the local community for personal gain and a misguided sense of community.  And the biggest complaint people have it seems is there aren’t enough white people wandering around Harlem.

I honestly didn’t even notice it until I saw the internet idiot brigade raise it on Twitter and Facebook and bring it to the forefront.  I’m going to put aside any notion of intrinsic racism that these people might have and rather than accuse them of bigotry, I’m going to pronounce them guilty of extreme stupidity and having entirely misaligned expectations for this TV show.

This about where this show is set, who the protagonist is, who the antagonists are and then mix in the underlying story arc.  Why would you expect to have a bunch of white people involved in this show?  It wouldn’t make sense.  That has nothing to do with the validity of the show itself, the quality of the writing or anything other than the people complaining have set inappropriate expectations.

Let’s move on from TV land because this happens with clients in business too.  I’ve been working on this report for my day job for about a week – it is seriously the bane of my existence at this point.

This report was based on a reasonably small engagement and before the client signed on, they carved the scope quite significantly to save cost.  As we’ve progressed, the client was late delivering some information back to us, our resources got moved on to other projects because of the lateness from the client and things haven’t been as smooth as you’d like on a small engagement like this.

The problem though hasn’t been any of that.  The biggest is has been the gradual, unchecked creeping of expectations on behalf of the client.  We delivered a draft report yesterday and had a review call with the client today and it was like they were talking about the deliverables from an entirely different project.

The issue was that the client made a whole bunch of assumptions about a level of detail around what they were getting and now aren’t really happy that our report doesn’t touch on those unspoken assumptions.

So where do we go from here?  Well, my first thought is to find a way to meet the client halfway and maybe put in a bit more effort where it makes sense and try and give the client something more along the lines of what they were looking for.  At some point though, there’s going to be a conversation that needs to be had around this with the client to try and realign their expectations with the statement of work that they agreed to.

This misalignment of expectations happens to every business.  I’ve had people leave one-star reviews on my Udemy courses saying, “This is not what I expected” and I’ve had another person ask for a refund on a newsletter issue because they didn’t feel it was what they had anticipated it would be when they signed up.

This is going to happen to you if it hasn’t already.  The truth is, for the most part, you just have to let it go and not worry about it.  If you’re running a services business then misalignment of expectations and scope creep (these two go hand in hand) can be very costly if you don’t nip it in the bud.

Remember, there are two sides to every story, so try and find the middle ground if you can, but if the person you’re dealing with is out of whack when it comes to what they’re expecting, you need to quickly make the call that they aren’t going to be a financially viable client or customer and move on.

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