It's said that the gap between expectation and reality is the most depressing one of all. The millennial generation was all told we could be anything when we grew up, which is depressingly untrue. So when a number of us grew up and weren't astronauts, or film stars or ponies (my sister was weird) then we got upset about it. So we need to think about managing expectations.

It's particularly true in the service industry like PR - when you work by the hour you need to make sure your client is very clear on how long something will take and also of the impact that will have. The media landscape is changing so it's not so easy to promise multiple column inches devoted to your company's new colour-scheme.

It's been budget week and for the first time in its 8 years of budget delivery the Government failed on managing expectations. Previous budgets have been very carefully sign-posted about what will be in them from a negative perspective. In 2010, John Key sign-posted that there would be tax cuts that would benefit the rich more than the poor. He got out early so that by the time Bill English delivered the budget people were all "oh yeah, John Key said that would happen, so there we go". Brilliant. He managed expectations of the public exceedingly well. The reverse of this was when the benefit increase was kept secret and suddenly bam! "First benefit increase in 40 years" the National Government crowed and nobody saw it coming. It caught the opposition as they looked foolish arguing against it.

But this time around something went a bit haywire. There were large expectations about some kind of panacea for the housing crisis but we got very little. So people are angry about that. Also there were a number of media reports that the Government might extend paid parental leave - when asked about it, Bill English was cryptic and said we'd have to wait and see. Bad move Bill. What you needed to do was stamp that out - "no there will not be anything in there extending paid parental leave". By not doing this he created an expectation that there might be, and for the majority of people this would be a great thing. It wasn't there and so we're unhappy.

The huge increases of health spending which should have been the good news (when in actual fact it's just meeting the bare minimum requirements) has been overshadowed by the fact that the Auckland Housing Crisis remains unfixed. And even if they weren't going to / couldn't fix it, the Government needed to be clearer about this so we knew it was coming. Surprise is the enemy of goodwill in this instance. 

The lessons for us all are clear - don't try and be cryptic if you're not going to deliver something that  people want. Be up front and honest about it, because people will forgive that, but they won't be so quick to forgive the attempts to be sneaky.