Time to face reality. Why you need to align expectations in the workplace.

Have you noticed there's often a disconnect between a new hire's expectations and that of their employer?

Time to face reality. Why you need to align expectations in the workplace.

During the hiring process, there's often far too much information to convey in too little time, so it's not surprising that misunderstandings often take root and show up as a misalignment of expectations.

These can include:

  • Misunderstandings around the weight of a particular task or skill - For example, something that may have only been briefly touched upon in the interview might form a much more significant part of a role than an employee expects.
  • Inconsistencies in the workplace culture - For example, when a company has a reputation for treating their employees in a certain way, but a new hire quickly discovers that the same rules don't apply for all. Another common one is a misleading portrayal of work/life balance - when employees realise they are still expected to work late, regardless of other commitments, this will come as an unwelcome shock. Clarification is always key.
  • Unkept promises - Even something mentioned in passing as a future incentive, promotion or initiative is likely to be ingrained in a new hire's mind. As a result, they can feel let down when it doesn't come to fruition.

Context of employment contributes to misalignment of expectations

Other misalignments in expectations arise from something far less obvious - the context of employment. According to CEB’s study of High-Impact Leadership Transitions, there are five contexts of employment:

  1. Smooth Sailing - The leader moves into a position according to a previously arranged transition plan under normal business conditions (3% of leadership transitions).
  2. Replacing an Icon - The leader's predecessor was very successful in the job (18%).
  3. Following a Train Wreck - The leader's predecessor was not successful in the job (27%).
  4. Jump Start - A static environment where the performance of the leader's predecessor wasn't particularly strong or weak, but the organization needs to quickly move in a different direction (19%).
  5. Breaking Ground - The leader assumes a newly created position (31%).

As you can see, with only 3% of leadership transitions classified as smooth sailing, most are facing a high degree of uncertainty and the reality that the employee experience (EX) will be far from easy.

But, it's unlikely the employee will be aware of that context until it's too late - when they are commencing their role, and employee onboarding is underway. That's why it's critical for hiring managers to pay mind to align expectations by ensuring they present the role accurately and are aware that their own expectations of the employee are likely to be framed by the context of the hire.

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Greg Weiss is Australia’s Leading Career Coach. He is the author of “So You Got The Job! WTF Is Next?”. The book prescribes a proven, practical 7-step framework for new employees so they succeed, rather than fail their probation periods and beyond. Find out more about the book at https://www.wtfisnext.wtf/

He is the Founder and Director of Onboff an online training and coaching platform that helps HR specialists, coaches and recruiters to deliver exceptional onboarding and offboarding experiences for employees.

He also hosts The Keep: The Employee Experience podcast and runs CareerSupport365.