Bianca-Maria Klein on Expectation Management

16. May 2024 – Bianca-Maria Klein

Blog post by Bianca-Maria Klein on expectation management and the importance of clarified expectations as a decisive factor for the success of change processes.

Change is inevitable and essential, especially in a constantly evolving business world.

A company’s ability to embrace and successfully manage change is often crucial to its long-term competitiveness. Effective change management has the task of coordinating old and new resources and processes during such phases of change, communicating understanding to all employees and implementing new strategies to ensure that the changes are implemented smoothly and effectively in the long term.

However, managers are often faced with the challenge of implementing and realizing change processes quickly, at short notice and, of course, successfully. They are often not involved from the outset and are only confronted with this task once the change process has already been decided or has begun. The most critical factor arising from this, which has a significant influence on the success of such processes, is the clarification of expectations. For both managers and their team members, the lack of clarified expectations can lead to stress and uncertainty.

Expectation Management: How to deal with stress and uncertainty in change processes.

Change is almost always associated with uncertainty at the beginning. Anyone who has ever moved to a new city or country, accepted a new job or taken on a new team knows this. Uncertainty can be mixed with anticipation, which is a motivating feeling for a person. However, if the feeling of strong uncertainty causes loss of control and stress, this can have negative consequences and long-term effects. On the success of the intended projects, but above all on the physical and mental health of the people involved.

Managers in particular are increasingly faced with the challenge of leading their teams confidently and successfully through change processes. This leadership task involves managing projects throughout the entire process, dealing with conflict-laden situations, supporting insecure employees at all times and keeping the entire team informed. Added to this may be their own fears and insecurities, as well as personal questions such as: Can I still carry out my role as a manager in the future? or: Can I even manage all of this on my own and do I have the skills? For many managers, these challenges create a lot of pressure and therefore stress, which can have a personal impact and influence the success of the entire change initiative.

The cause of uncertainty

But why does the process of change lead to these uncertainties and stress? After many years of experience with companies of different shapes and sizes and in different industries, Bianca-Maria Klein knows that one of the main reasons is poor or lacking “expectation management”. When managers and their teams do not know or do not understand precisely what is expected of them, uncertainty and fear of the unknown arise. In such moments, self-doubt, resistance to required change and a general decrease in work motivation and willingness to take risks can occur.

Managing expectations is a crucial approach to minimizing stress and potential conflict in change processes. It involves the clear and ongoing communication of objectives and defined roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders throughout the process. A proven way to achieve this and successfully manage expectations in companies is to ask specific questions.

The power of the question

Managers are often convinced that they need to provide their teams with as much information as possible. Figures, data and facts that are relevant to the change processes and the success parameters of the projects. This is basically correct, but they often forget to ask individual employees questions. Asking questions has a strong power to make teams successful, because asking questions offers many advantages:

Gaining insight: The manager receives information from individual team members that may help to solve problems or make a decision.

Finding solutions: Questions are an essential tool in the process of problem solving. They can help to identify obstacles, understand causes and find effective solutions.

Promoting learning: The best example here is children who naturally ask questions. Asking questions is an effective method of learning. It enables knowledge to be deepened, new perspectives to be gained and innovative ideas to be developed.

Create clarity: Questions can help eliminate ambiguity, break down barriers in communication and prevent misunderstandings. They promote a clear understanding between the people communicating.

Improving communication: Asking questions regularly promotes open and direct communication. It shows interest in and appreciation of other opinions and perspectives.

Relationship management: Showing interest in and appreciation of other people fundamentally strengthens relationships, builds trust, promotes tolerance and respect and therefore positive social interaction.

Self-reflection: Asking yourself questions also promotes self-reflection. It enables deeper self-knowledge, supports personal growth and helps to develop self-awareness and strengthen self-confidence.

Focus on expectation management

Managers who are aware of the power of questions use them to understand and manage the expectations, wishes, demands and ideas of their employees. The following areas are part of change processes and projects and asking the sample questions listed here can be crucial to success.

Clarify the desired goals:

Before changes are even initiated, it is crucial to clearly define the objectives. Managers should not only understand the objectives of the change, but also communicate these precisely to their teams. Questioning goals helps to ensure that everyone involved has a clear idea of where the journey is heading. Clarifying the following questions in the team can be helpful here:

  • What specific goals are we pursuing (long and short term) with this change?
  • What do the changes mean for each and every one of you?
  • What opportunities that we may not yet see will arise as a result of the change?
  • How will these goals affect our daily work processes?
  • What impact will the goals have on your individual tasks and responsibilities?

Comparison of expectations:

Managers and employees should know their own expectations well and be allowed to discuss them openly. By discussing and comparing expectations with each other, potential misunderstandings can be identified and resolved at an early stage. This creates an atmosphere of openness and transparency and promotes psychological security in the teams. The following questions can be clarified within the team:

  • How do you interpret and stand by the objectives of the change?
  • What challenges do you see in connection with the proposed changes?
  • What specific personal expectations do you have of me as your manager / of our team / of yourself?
  • How will you ensure that we meet our expectations together?
  • Are there any ambiguities or uncertainties that we should clarify together?

Communicate roles and responsibilities:

Everyone in the team should understand what their role is in the change process and what responsibilities are associated with it. Managing expectations also includes clear communication about who will take on which tasks, when, and how collaboration will be organized in the long and short term. This clarification should be repeated at regular intervals in order to make possible changes in tasks transparent. The following questions can be clarified in the team:

  • Can you clearly describe your role in the change process?
  • What specific tasks and responsibilities do you envisage for yourself in our team?
  • Are there any overlaps or ambiguities regarding responsibilities that we need to clarify?
  • Are there any areas of responsibility that you are particularly interested in and would like to take on and for which you may have special expertise?

Promote an open feedback culture:

Establishing a culture of open feedback is crucial to constantly ensure that expectations are met or clarified. Regular, clear feedback allows adjustments to be made and misunderstandings to be resolved at an early stage. The following questions can be used in the team:

  • How do you feel about your role, your tasks and your results so far in the change process?
  • Have you received sufficient feedback on your performance and results so far?
  • What suggestions do you have for improving teamwork?
  • Where do you still see new opportunities for your further training and growth?


Overall, it is clear that the uncertainties and stress in change processes are often due to unclear expectations. The active and targeted management of expectations by asking specific questions is an effective tool for promoting clarity and motivation. Managers who are able to openly define and communicate clear expectations throughout the team can avoid potential misunderstandings, enable the team to react constructively to change and thus create a positive, motivating and safe working atmosphere of trust and respectful cooperation.

To ensure the success of change processes, managers should not only pay attention to strategic implementation, but also to the human (and completely natural) reaction and consequences of change. By recognizing and proactively managing the importance and need for clarified expectations (including their own), leaders and teams can successfully navigate through change together and emerge stronger.

Book leadership expert Bianca-Maria Klein for a presentation or workshop on expectation management and the change process: +1 (704) 804 1054 or

Bianca-Maria Klein

Coach and Keynote Speaker for Transformation processes, Expectation management, Personal development & Communication