How to Manage Event Expectations with Senior Management

  • There may be other things that are industry-specific that you need to make sure you set clear expectations with senior management in the beginning. Add these to your list. Make sure you go over everything with them by following these suggestions.

 1. Make Sure You’re Clear First

Before placing anything in writing to senior management, you need to know the goals they had in mind for the event. Speak to them first and look to understand their professional and corporate goals. A corporate goal might be to increase revenue by 10% but their professional goal may be to get the board to notice their hard work.

Understanding these will help you understand the attitude and future angst as well as hot button topics such as fear of looking bad when being considered for another position.

When you present your plan to senior management they will most likely need to clarify some piece of it. If they don’t, it’s likely they’re not paying attention. So ensure you know it inside and out before you present it to them. This also includes understanding the why behind what you’re asking for or stipulating. Be prepared for questions on the “why” as well as the “what” or “how.”

 2. Understand Different Types of Expectations

There are multiple levels of expectations. There are corporate expectations for the event, department expectations, individual employee expectations, and day-to-day forward-facing expectations to stakeholders including customers, peers, managers and more. Be clear on the different levels so that you can cover all of them.

 3. Place Everything in Writing

Even if you have a lot of expectations you need to enumerate, it’s important that you place all of this in writing to senior management. While they may not appreciate the War and Peace sized tome, it gives them a reference guide if they can’t remember the discussion you had about it, which brings us to….

 4. Present the Details Face to Face

When you send your event expectations, budget, and details, you should also make some time to review the highlights with them in person. Don’t read every line to them. No one has time for that. Instead, summarize the main points, particularly the ones that involve them directly.

While this may feel like a presentation on your part, you should open it up as a discussion. You want them to:

  • Understand the process
  • Know why you’re asking for what you are
  • Understand what would happen if you did it another way
  • Know how their goals for the event are tracked and reflected

 5. Adopt Changes

First, it’s important to be open to changes. Those who help create something are more apt to support it. If anyone has any changes to the document or refuses to do something that is asked, add that to your senior management event guide and reissue it to them.

 6. Get Commitment on Roles

As mentioned earlier, it’s important senior management understands what’s expected of them as well as people who report into them. Once you have agreement on these things, make sure you issue timelines and personalized lists of responsibilities. This way they needn’t read through the entire document to refresh their memories.

Also, don’t double assign individual tasks. It may be tempting to give the same assignment to each senior manager in the hopes that someone gets it done but when everyone is assigned the same task that should only be performed once, most managers will assume somebody else has got it under control and mark it off. If everyone does that, the task won’t get completed.

 7. Under Promise and Over Deliver

Always under deliver and over promise. Scratch that. Reverse it. Seriously though, always agree to lesser goals than you believe you can manage. To challenge yourself personally is one thing but never feel uncomfortable with a goal for an event.

 8. Communicate Changes

Communicate changes as they come up. In addition to your scheduled, periodic communications bring up anything that will affect the plan. For instance, if you’re relying on a large part of the marketing department to help out and then they decide they can no longer spare the time, you want to bring that up as soon as possible with executive management.

 9. Don’t Over-manage

Most people hate a micro manager. When managing expectations you want to communicate effectively and make sure everyone knows the goals and how you will meet them. But at the end of the day, that’s all you can do. They will still have their own expectations and while you can partially manage them through communication, you can’t entirely do so. People will still choose to think what they think.

  •  It can be difficult to manage a corporate event when dealing with a team of senior execs who know little about event design and planning. But they are business people. If you take the time to explain basic expectations, they should understand how that affects the bottom line. The one thing you need to be sure on is that they understand what you’re doing and why.