How to overcome expectation mismatches in your first job
The excitement of starting your first job is like nothing else you'll ever experience. While for many graduates this is a happy start to their corporate life, for a few it often fails to live up to their expectations and is followed by an early exit.
The issue here is that both employers and graduates have expectations. A mismatch between the two can lead to disappointments. As you head into the new employee territory, make sure you are fully aware of what you’re getting into. After all, you’re in this for the long haul!
So if you're just about to step foot into the big corporate world, here’s what you should be doing in the first few weeks to set expectations right.
Be clear on your KPI’s
Being a full-time employee for the first time, it’s not just the first week but the first few months that can be overwhelming. Not only do you have to get used to a new team and boss, but also you’re suddenly swamped with a whole slew of assignments - and sometimes, with little or no training or guidance.
This is your time to ask about and understand the training and development opportunities. Most importantly, understand what’s expected of you and where would your boss like to see you progress in the next six months. If both you and your boss are being transparent about expectations from the start, you will have a higher chance of long-term success.
Never stop asking questions
As you learn about new processes, tasks, and co-workers, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Remember, you are being observed and you need to get up to speed, as people will expect it from the new person on the team.
This is also your time to observe how your new organisation functions. For example, what time do people usually come in and leave? Do some people start early and leave late or vice-versa? Everyone is usually busy with meetings during the middle of the day, so don’t schedule all your meetings and catch-ups with certain people until after 6pm.
The nice thing about being new is that you have a built-in excuse to ask your co-workers questions about how they operate. Take advantage of it! Everyone likes to talk about themselves, so once you get the conversation started, you’re bound to get great information.
Unlike an internship, a full-time job can be very different and a bit more challenging. There may be instances where you’ll be anxious to over-perform, all bosses are too happy to have a hard-working employee putting in longer hours. But you also need to learn, early on, to set personal boundaries that allow you to stay balanced and avoid burnout.
Map out your goals ahead of time and discuss this with your boss and team. If you’ve done this early on, you sure have set the right expectations. It will help to avoid frictions in the future.
Find a mentor
You always need that one experienced, knowledgeable, and professional career coach with whom you can discuss your career progression. This is especially useful when you’re the youngest and least experienced person in the team. You just need to look around your organisation and find people who are like-minded, exude confidence, and initiative. Introduce yourself, and pick their brains.