Expectations and Freelancing

Project Management Life CycleExpectations. They are such a large part of our work. From the very first time we interview to the regular performance reviews we all love to hate, we’re trying to meet someone’s expectations. There’s a big problem with that, though. We don’t always know what someone’s expectations are.

I do some freelance work on the side. I used to do a lot of writing, but now I’ve moved to blog/web design. Anyway, sometimes I listen to and read resources that deal with freelance work. Recently I found a great one that talked about how much of a difference it makes in the project if you set expectations beforehand. I can’t seem to find the article any more, but the gist of it was this:

  • Client approaches freelancer for a project.
  • Freelancer takes the project and begins work based on the client’s directions.
  • Client changes his mind and wants something different.
  • Freelancer trashes his work and begins anew.
  • Rinse and repeat.

Doesn’t that sound fun? The poor freelance worker just wants to get the project done and get paid. The client wants the project done and off his plate. But the expectations weren’t clear enough to make it work from the beginning.

It’s not just for freelance workers

I can look at my own workplace and see similar examples, and I bet you can, too. Someone’s trying to get a project done without passing along all of the information, and that wastes the efforts of the team. I wonder how many times people see this kind of thing as micromanagement? It isn’t really micromanagement as much as bad communication from the very beginning.

Here’s the moral of the story: set clear expectations when you’re managing a person (or a project). It saves headaches and generally makes for a happier outcome in the long run.

Ever run into a problem because expectations weren’t communicated clearly? Ever had to restart a project when someone didn’t give you all the information? I’d love to hear your experiences.