Every time I hear “managing expectations” it reminds me of pizza. Strange, you say? Please bear with me. I learned many years ago how pizza can be used to explain the value of managing expectations. The theory goes like this: You call in an order for a pizza to be picked up at your favorite pizzeria on a Friday night and they tell you 15 minutes. So you hop in the car and pull in 15 minutes after you call only to find out you need to wait another 15 minutes for it to be ready once you arrive. It’s Friday, you’re tired and you have a hungry family waiting at home for their favorite pizza. Getting repeated texts asking where you and the pizza are does not help your mood.
Now let’s rewind. You call to order your favorite pizza. They say it will be 30 minutes. You take your time to get ready to go, you get in the car and when you arrive your beloved pizza is hot and deliciously waiting for you to pick up and bring right home.
In each example did it take a different amount of time to make the pizza? No. The only thing that changed was the expectation the customer was given. If you create realistic expectations and over-deliver on them you can expect to come out ahead in the long run.