By Leigh-Ann Athanasius & Kathleen Kibi

It’s only natural that you would have expectations of the people that you work with since you spend most of your time with them. Although expectations in the workplace are generally communicated externally through a company’s vision and mission and other channels (posters, meetings etc.), most of the expectations experienced in the workplace are internal i.e., between supervisors and employees, among co-workers and even within yourself.

Let’s start with employees and supervisors

The first place to find those expectations is in your job description. Your job description is the baseline of what your meant to contribute to the company. Once in a while, it is worth your time revisiting your job description to remind yourself on what job you came to do.

From there you should have something to build on to go above and beyond and leave your mark in the workplace. However, as we discussed in our article on clients’ expectations, consistency is key. You should focus on doing your job well, before trying to do more than you were asked to do. It doesn’t help much to overwork yourself with tasks that you were not required to do and end up falling behind on your main tasks.

You’re probably wondering, then how can I still find a way to stand out? Find out what your supervisor values.

There is the common assumption that if you are the first one in the office and the last one out, this will build favour with your supervisor. But is this something that your supervisor even cares about? Is it even something that they will notice?

In our intro to this series, we talked about how expectations evolve from our own perspective on life. We need to recognise that some of the things we do in the workplace to get ahead are things that only we believe will get us ahead in the workplace – with little to no regard to what those around us actually care about and value.

Talk to your supervisor and from there, uncover what they are looking for and where you feel you could realistically be doing things to get noticed. This not only lets you manage your supervisor’s expectations, but your own as well.

This is a two-way street though. 

Supervisors, communicate your expectations. It is important to have thought out messages that are given to the employees. Remember that they are not mind readers. Clear communication and instructions may just be the employees’ expectation of you. 

As a supervisor, you should be able to answer the question: If I don’t make my expectations known, is it fair to assess employees’ performance based on them?  

Your expectations shouldn’t be used as targets if they are not discussed with the relevant parties beforehand. Going back to the idea of expectations being weird; for the most part, expectations are subjective feelings of how someone should behave.

One way to make them actual targets is to make them measurable. This makes them more tangible and more realistic for employees to meet and exceed. 

So now your supervisors are happy with you, but what about your colleagues?

Colleague expectations can almost feel even more daunting than supervisor expectations. This is especially true if you are a new hire.

How do you compare to the person that was in your position before you? Many colleagues will use that as the measure for how well you fit in before they get a chance to know you and your workstyle.

It can be difficult to fill that slot in the office eco-system, but don’t fret too much. You were hired for a reason, and you will find your place. 

Talk to the people in your team. Find out where you can step up and be that little bit more helpful to your colleagues. Ask questions and pay attention to detail. Remembering details about someone or how they like certain work done can really help you stand out and exceed their expectations.

At the same time, keep your own expectations in check. You need to be sure that you are not expecting too much of the workplace as well as the people around you. Don’t think that everyone is going to notice your efforts right off the bat. This may take time or even go unnoticed.

What you may think is a valuable attribute to be noticed by your colleagues, may not even matter to them at all. Try not to build a resentment for your workplace because things are not going your way or your work is not being noticed.

It is also okay to set your boundaries. While we are talking about going beyond your job description, it is important to do that within reason. If you find that the requests you are getting are continually beyond your scope of work, then you should feel comfortable enough to have that discussion with your supervisor or your colleagues.

Make your expectations known as well. Other solutions can probably come from that conversation that will be beneficial in the long run for all parties involved. Again, communicating expectations makes the working process easier for everyone.

As a whole, manage your expectations – whether you’re the new hire, company veteran or the supervisor. Having realistic expectations can make the work experience significantly better. Keep in mind that expectations could be premeditated resentments if not communicated and kept practical.

We are really interested to hear your thoughts on our trilogy of articles on expectations. If we could summarize all the advice we’ve given, the key is communication. But what else have you learnt? Is there anything else you think we could’ve addressed? Leave your thoughts in the comments down below!  

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