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Managing Other Peoples Expectations – Perception

I keep telling myself that I need to find the time to complete a proper, all be it lengthy, blog post on the topic of Perception. This has to be by far (outside of rudeness which I simply do not tolerate) one of the most difficult and “itchy feeling” topics ever to try and nail down, and something that we have all had to deal with at some point or another during our time in the events world.

Until I can find that time, I can touch on a couple of small examples that illustrate how the use of the word can be both uplifting and soul destroying – and more so, how the person using the word can be equally so…..

The positive is somewhat easier to digest, as it always is. We work for months on events that take up considerable amounts of our time and even though at the end of it all there may have been certain aspects that were not 100% as we would have wanted them to be – or points that our eye noticed that no one else did – that feeling when the clients themselves comes and tell you just how amazing it was – the night of their dreams… something that can not be surpassed. I have said it time and time again but there will always be something to learn from the events we produce and we can only hope for our clients to feel that this is the best night of their lives.

I have found that when it comes to the negative, on a large number of occasions it is more about the person doing the talking than what it is they are talking about. There are those clients for whom their expectation has not been met. The perception therefore to their guests and those people they need to “impress” is paramount. If we have truly fallen short and it reflects in a negative way on them, we have to take that half a step back and ask ourselves whether or not we really did do the best job we could have and what we can (although with hindsight) learn for the next time. If we feel we did get it right the perception card will always be held against us and a balanced and honest viewpoint (given we work in a service industry) has to be reached.

What about relationships, your colleagues and those you report to? Even more difficult. For those we manage, we always need to give praise where it is due, balanced of course with the feedback that allows for development to be made. Perception amongst colleagues is hard to manage. We make decisions that affect them, and those they are expected to then move ahead with. Their perception of the “why” is not always in keeping with the bigger picture and having to explain is not always possible. We can only do our best to treat them with respect and recognize that our task as managers is to make decisions that not everyone will like, and none of them are personal.

The hardest part I feel is the relationship with our bosses. I have written and re written this paragraph several times in the last half an hour. I think that actually what I don’t write will be understood by those who “get it” more so that writing what could seem more of a rant that constructive. If you already have “that” feeling inside then you know where I am coming from. A situation that has left you feeling sick because of how something has been said, or how the word perception has been thrown around almost like a defense mechanism rather than constructive feedback, leaving you wishing the ground would open and swallow you up. If that is you, I understand, and I am sure we are not alone.

Hang in there. Drop me a line if any of this rings true, I would love to hear from you and your experiences.


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