Managing expectations

Some years ago, I wrote about Tom Peters‘ Formula for Success, which hinges on doing two things; promising less than you can deliver, and delivering more than you have promised. I can’t foresee a future when this will not be true, however, I think it bears expanding on. Simply put, by telling the user what to expect, we not only set their expectations, we manage them too, particularly if the user’s expectations are wildly unrealistic.

We have many different terms for this. When dealing with customers on prior agreement, this would be a Service Level Agreement, or SLA. In project management, we talk about deadlines and milestones. Whatever we call it, we are managing expectations. At the end of the day, the object is to make sure that our user is happy. The very best way to manage expectations is to communicate. If something changes, communicate that clearly to the user.

At the end of the day, we can only do our best. By setting realistic goals, and communicating those goals to all interested parties, we buy ourselves time, understanding and happy users.

The Tuckman model and Project Management

In Project Management, we talk about the Tuckman model, also known as Tuckman’s stages of group development. Though of particular importance in project management, the stages bear some relation to most aspects of working life. I think most of us would benefit from knowing the basics of it, and how it all works. Originally proposed with four stages in 1965, the fifth stage was added in 1977. The stages are, in order:

  1. Forming
  2. Storming
  3. Norming
  4. Performing
  5. Adjourning

Forming

By forming we mean the stage when the group has just been formed, when roles are being assigned, and the ice broken.

Storming

In the storming stage, different ideas are being considered and lobbied for. These ideas include both the content, or deliverable, of the project, but also the form, or execution, of the work to be performed.

Norming

By the norming stage, we are down to choosing what ideas to implement, and how. Some of the participants will need to back down from their chosen methods and content, while others will emerge “victorious”.

Performing

The performing stage is when the actual work of the project takes place. Depending on the model used, the performing stage will often go through many iterations in which the deliverables are being developed.

Adjourning

Once the project has delivered the product, the team is broken up, and adjourns.

Hiding the Office Ribbon menu

For most of my time as a computer user, my main text editing tool has been Microsoft Office. I have grown accustomed to using, and even sort of liking the ribbon menu. However, as I often work on a laptop with its severely limited monitor real estate, I needed to find a way to hide it when I am not using it. Luckily enough, that is very simple.

At the top right hand corner of the window in any Office application, between View and the question mark, there is a upward-pointing arrow:

By clicking that arrow, you hide the Ribbon menu. Don’t worry, it’s still available, you just have to click one of the menu items, such as File, Home or Insert to summon it again.

Outlook: Delegate sending permissions

Last week I showed you how to send as a different address. You might also want to allow someone else to send on behalf of you. Here’s how:

  1. Click on File
  2. Go to Info > Account Settings > Delegate Access
  3. Click Add
  4. Search for, and select, the person you want to grant permissions, then click OK
  5. In the Delegate Permissions dialog box, set the Inbox permissions to Editor, then click OK
  6. Click OK to close the Delegates dialog box

Once this is done, you have delegated access to the person specified. If you want, you could delegate access to all members of a mail group.

Rants and ramblings of a support technician