Setting Management Expectations
by Ashley Elliott
I have one of the those faces that people feel comfortable with and just share all their woes (almost) immediately. So, when our mini KEDA research piece showed that ‘managing expectations’ was one of the biggest concerns for fundraisers, I was unsurprised. I’ve heard many a tale of fundraisers being pulled in different directions, with goalposts changing along the way. When we think about how we can manage expectations, it’s important that those in charge of setting expectations step up and take responsibility too. As a manager, could you do a better job of setting expectations for your team? Here’s my four top tips to do it well:

1. Write stuff down

It can be tempting (especially in small teams) to just talk things through all the time and ‘crack on’ with things. In any sized organisation it’s important to keep a paper trail. You should be clear in your communication and this includes writing. Here’s a few examples of things you should keep track of:

• Regular 121’s or individual meetings

• Notes and recommendations from any team meetings

• Fundraising strategy and the individual roles/parts within it

• Behavioural/organisational expectations – how do you want your staff to act? Treat people? Talk to donors? How flexible are you with hours? This should all be written down in a guide so it’s clear.

2. Don’t have favourites

It’s a really obvious statement to make, yet we’re naturally inclined to enjoy the company of some of the people we work with over others. It’s human nature. As a manger, you can’t allow this to cloud your treatment of the team as a whole. It’s not fair and it builds resentment. In order to address it, you can:

- Share out development opportunities

- Try not to overload one person (even if they complain less!)

- Make sure that one person isn’t allowed to behave in a way that others can’t.

3. Consistency is key

This is where writing behavioural and organisational expectations down is really important as it removes some of the ability for inconsistency. For example, if you’ve stated you’re a flexible employer and allowed your team to start and finish work at slightly different times, you can’t then negatively react to someone if they take you on your word. Another example would be; if you want to create an open-door policy, you need to be really careful in how you respond to people if they try and ‘open the door’ at a time that is inconvenient for you!

Everyone responds well to consistency. So, take some time out. Think about who are you and what you expect from people, what your goals are, and how you want the team to be working. Convey that message and then stick to it. I think managers seem to struggle with consistency when they either aren’t working in a way which is effective for them, or they have an inconsistent boss and they’re projecting their frustrations. Either way, it’s a situation which needs addressing.

4. Ensure the objectives you set are achievable

It’s important to take some time out to research and review objectives before they are set. If you don’t put thought behind the numbers it can quickly build an expectation gap.

Do you ask the same year on year without reviewing your data? Do you have a history of achieving what’s been asked, or a plan in place if you’re trying something new? Do you check regional trends, or see if there are any future events which could have a negative impact on yours? Could you achieve the objectives you set for others?


These are, of course, just a few examples of setting clear expectations within your team. This will be easier in some organisations over others, but whatever situation you’re in if there’s an expectation gap, you need to address it.

If you’re a manager I’d be really keen to know what your top tips are. Or conversely, if you’re an employee what do you appreciate when managers set expectations? I’d love to hear from you so get in touch at

We will be running a whole series of articles on managing expectations. Some of our next articles will lay out our top tips on managing expectations with; funders, your manager and your supporters. So, if this is an area of interest for you, be sure to keep an eye on our facebook and twitter.

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