Expectations can be good, but I’ve seen many times when they are a core problem.
When your boss thinks you can code the next rocket into space, but you’ve only learned how to start the coffee maker….When you think you should be promoted but your boss thinks you’ve only barely learned to do your current job on your own….When you’re expected to answer 100 phone calls an hour, there’s only you, and each call lasts 5 minutes.….When you’re expected to smile every moment of your day, but you are coming down with the flu….You were hired to be the project manager but now you’re the personal assistant to the Vice President.
I could go on – these are all real and I’ve seen every one of them.
Communication, communication, communication. It is the most important thing we need, and it is the most difficult thing to do.
If the expectations are off, then you must speak up. Every day that they remain out of line, the gap widens as bitterness and the feelings of unfairness grow. An easy first step is to write up what you see. Be careful to use phrases such as “I believe” and “what I’ve seen” because you do not know everything, and you do not see everything. Sleep on it, make sure there are no ‘very’, ‘never’, or ‘always’ and remove all the strong adjectives – they make everything harder. Then, send it off asking for some time on their calendar. This method gives the other party time to adjust to what you want to say and what you want them to hear. Most likely, they’re experiencing frustration too, so they need a moment to get past their own issues and begin to problem solve with you.
When you’re the most frustrated, it’s pretty much guaranteed to mean that there is critical information you don’t have. This critical information will make everything make sense. And that’s what you’re hoping to get. In the process of finding out more information, the expectations will be identified, and most likely will get adjusted to become closer to reality.
In some cases, you’ll find out where your own lines are. Maybe that VP is a narcissistic and you need to find a new job. Maybe you’re the only one answering the calls because everyone else quit as your management is not concerned with your well-being. It is always best to find these things out quickly especially as it will help reduce your own bitterness.
Communication, communication, communication. It’s everything.