Definition of Expectation Management

Definition Last Updated 17-Dec-2015 12:51

Expectation Management is a disorder of corporate management manifesting as belated communication about some problem in the – usually forlorn – hope of avoiding an even bigger problem; the biggest problem being that tardy communication is not even recognised by management as a problem in the first place.

Expectation Management is “necessitated” by the inability or unwillingness (or both) of a group to communicate with its stakeholders in an honest, transparent and timely fashion, for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Management doesn’t know what it is doing, so has nothing to communicate
  • Management knows what it’s doing but doesn’t know what matters to the stakeholders, so doesn’t bother to communicate
  • Management does know what it is doing and does know what matters to the stakeholders, but doesn’t care about them enough to be bothered to communicate
  • Management knows what it is doing, knows what matters to the stakeholders, cares passionately about them but refuses to communicate with them because it cares more for itself and knows full well that the stakeholders would be upset with it if it did communicate with them honestly, transparently and in a timely fashion
  • Contrary to naïve expectations, management sincerely believed that honest, effective and timely communication was not in fact in the stakeholders’ best, long-term interests, and the fact that some benefit might have accrued to management by not communicating as it should is entirely incidental and irrelevant

Withholding information may be predicated on the belief that knowledge is power, that all-round ignorance is bliss, or that in the dark, since you can’t see the monster, the monster can’t see you. In management meetings, no one will hear you scream.


Expectation Management is a term of contumely for and of those who practice it.

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