Great expectations require great communication

Imagine sitting down at a restaurant and ordering fish tacos. Your plate arrives, and you’re disgusted by what you see. The fish is fried instead of grilled, they’re smothered in pickled onions (yuck) and you’re missing your side of fries.

Sooo annoying. Send it back, day ruined.

But wait a sec.

Did you specifically tell the waitress…

  • You would like the fish grilled instead of fried? No…
  • To leave the onions off? No…
  • Sub the rice with a side of fries? No…

Huh. Now you’re mad, the waitress is frustrated, and you don’t even want to know what the cook’s saying in the back. 

See my point? 

We all have expectations. 

But when we don’t communicate them with others, we create unnecessary anger and letdown. That’s why it’s incredibly important to communicate clear expectations between anyone you work with – especially clients and team members.

Setting Expectations with Clients

You and your client have your own perceived expectations, the trick is to get them in alignment…

➡️ If you never told your client you have specific office hours, can you be mad at them for calling at 8 pm on a Friday night?

➡️ If they prefer to email but you send them texts, who’s to blame when you’re annoyed they don’t answer and they’re frustrated because their phone keeps buzzing?

There are a million little details that make up the relationship between you and your client. The smallest misalignments build friction, which can create an unenjoyable experience for everyone involved. No bueno, friends. No bueno. 

So, how do we change this? By replacing assumptions with expectations.

My best advice for doing this? Write. it. down.

I go over all those small, personal details at least three times before work commences.

1️⃣ First during the sales call – I discuss expectations and make sure the client and I are a fit; I follow up with a quick email (remember write.it.down.).

2️⃣ Second, the details of our agreement (what’s included in the duties and tasks my firm will perform) is memorialized in the Terms of Service and Scope of Work

3️⃣ Third during the onboarding call I revisit and review what was discussed. 

By the time we start working together, we’re on the same page about things like:

  • Times of availability
  • Preferred method of meeting (Zoom, in-person, over the phone, etc.)
  • Invoice due dates
  • Best ways to get in touch

All these little details define your relationship and set you both up for success – as long as your expectations are in alignment, and your communication is on point.

Setting Expectations With Team Members

Whether you have full-time employees or work with contractors, ensuring they’re a good fit starts with setting clear expectations from the get-go.

Here’s why: 

I recently interviewed a candidate for an executive assistant position. She was great, but she let me know that she does not communicate via text or calls. More power to her, but that was a deal-breaker for me.

Because I let her know my expectations for communication up front, we were able to determine it wasn’t going to be a good fit (also P.S. I now include that requirement in my job descriptions. Lesson learned!). 

So, help your future team members know what to expect by creating a crystal clear job description. I include everything a candidate needs to know to be successful – their primary responsibilities, hours of availability, travel requirements, and now, preferred method of communication.

A word of wisdom – it’s important to keep an open mind, and be realistic when trying to find someone new to join your team. Try to only include the deal-breakers or must-haves, and be open to talking about the rest once you’ve gotten to know someone better.

Remember my experience above, texting is an absolute must for me, so it goes in every job description I make. If you don’t care how your team communicates with you, don’t feel like you have to include that – but remember to still discuss these details during the interviewing and onboarding process.

Okay, so you’ve hired an awesome new team member or contractor. Now what?

Again I say, write. it. down.

Create an offer or engagement letter that reiterates the job description, and don’t forget to include anything else discussed during the interview process. This includes a list of responsibilities, specific deliverables, time frames, rate of pay, when invoices must be submitted (for contractors), etc.

From there, give your new team member an idea of what they can expect moving forward. For example, I have 30-day, 60-day, and 90-day reviews with every new team member. These give both of us a chance to check-in, ask questions, and address any misaligned expectations that pop up in those first few weeks together.


If you assume your people or your clients know what you need, you’re going to be constantly disappointed (not to mention you’re basically expecting them to be telepathic). At the end of the day, it’s not good for your mental health, productivity, team morale, or client retention.

And nothing’s going to make it easier to align expectations than having something physical you and your client or team member can reference, such as an email or document.

I’ve seen unspoken expectations sour relationships before, but creating clear channels of communication is the first step in getting both parties in alignment. 

Talk soon,


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