In my personal experience, the biggest mistake when starting a new job is to not set out clear expectations from the off. I know, I always regret never asking these questions once I get a few months in. So here is a quick post about the vital questions you should have answered in those first few weeks and hopefully you can learn from my mistake:
What are your expectations for the first six months?
Most jobs have a probation period. In the UK, these range from three to six months. In that time, an employer has the right to let an employee go without any notice. On the other hand, the employee also has the right to leave that role in a similar fashion. The probation period is about figuring out if the role is right for the employee, the employee fits into the company and basically setting the foundations for the future of the partnership.
That’s where the expectations comes into it. On both sides.
Consider what was on the job description and what was discussed in job interviews. Ideally you should have at least an view of what you imagine yourself in this role looks like. Then discuss this with your employer and see if they know what they want from you in those first six months. This will help not only make sure you’re on the same page, but also set up that line of communication.
What are my targets for x months?
Similar to the first point, this means to set out tangible targets as a metric for your success in a set period. I decided to put this as a separate point though because while you can have a good conversation about expectations, until you agree on something measurable then your success can be subjective.
An example of this is if you know that you are expected to show passion for your work. This can make sense that an employer wants someone who enjoys their work and is clearly motivated. But we have to consider how that looks in your eyes, and also your employer’s eyes. Do those views match?
To help this understanding, it can help to set up a series of goals which can be measured. For example, when the expectation is:
Show passion for your work
Then a goal may be:
Present a piece of work to your team every week/month.
The key to setting these goals is to make them measurable and set a deadline for achieving them.
How do you want to be kept updated?
Now this can vary depending on the type of boss you have and the kind of environment you work in. While my personal preference is regular one to one sessions which are booked into the calendar, I know other people prefer to give daily summaries in a written format. The key here is to keep regular communication going in order to provide feedback on both sides.
Now over to you, what are the mistakes that you’ve learned from from the first few months in your job roles. What do you wish someone had told you about setting yourself up in a new role?