A Change in Plans – When Job Expectations and Job Requirements Do Not Align

Moving on, we find number eleven on Indeed’s top sixteen reasons employees seek to leave their current employer is because they think the very job they were hired for itself changed. Indeed states:

“When you first start a job, the employer lays out all your benefits, perks and responsibilities. As your company evolves, you may realize that your job looks quite different from when you started.”

I have experienced this firsthand. During a standard 30-day review with a new-hire, my COO and I had a conversation with them to level set expectations for both of us. We were told by the employee that the job duties were not what they expected. The position this person was being trained for had not changed, was not different from the job description they reviewed to make application with us, and it was not anything different than what they signed on to do. We went back through the job responsibilities that were clearly outlined prior to the employee accepting the position and discussed what was working well from all our perspectives to date.

In trying to discern the underlying reason for the disconnect, I didn’t believe it was because the three interviews my team conducted prior to offer and acceptance were not thorough. Throughout the interview process and 30-days into the employment, the employee had been pleasant, had no issues and was believed to have the aptitude to learn the rest of the job. It became apparent, however, that the employee’s expectations had nothing to do with the job responsibilities themselves. It was clear that it was the employee’s expectation of what they thought they should be doing vs. what they thought should be delegated to subordinates.

I have to tell you that our office and team are fantastic, and as a result, the employee decided they would like to continue in their current role with their current duties. We reset the expectations and agreed to meet again in another 30 days. However, the next sit down came sooner than 30 days. Despite clear (and restated) expectations in place, we discovered that although the employee’s past titles and responsibilities on paper were equivalent to the ones we hired this person for, the individual felt performing those same tasks was not to “their liking” and wanted us to consider them for a different role. We declined and agreed to a departure date that was mutual for all of us.

Another example is when an employer decides to change an employee out of a position to which that employee was hired. Case in point is when a client of ours hired a person to fill a clearly outlined job, reporting to one of the executives who had ultimately approved the hire of the employee.  That executive and the supporting team were in the process of onboarding and training the new hire only to have a higher-ranking executive decide to commandeer the new hire and change their role within the organization. Needless to say, the outcome was not successful for the company or the employee.

Nobody wins when people (employee or employer) pull rank, seek favoritism or go into employment with false expectations. It is common for employees to think they can convince the hiring manager to make a change in title, responsibility and software a company uses. It is even common for a candidate to think they can prove to the hiring manager that they can do the job remote. Likewise, it is common for hiring managers to assume that an employee will do something that might be common to the role within their company, yet not standard practice for that role within the industry itself.

For example, although it may be standard industry practice for field superintendents to do daily reports, it is not standard practice for all companies to have their field superintendents directly issue and respond to RFI’s. Daily reporting has been simplified with technology for field superintendents and is based on documenting what they know happened. RFI’s require willingness and ability to correspond in writing with clarity of intention for what a field superintendent needs direction on to proceed with the project. Many superintendents tell with us that they leave their company because they felt they did not have the support they needed to do their job only to realize it was their own expectations to have a field engineer, for example, working side by side with them.

An individual’s intrinsic behavior often reveals what might be required for them to align expectations at the interview level, during onboarding and throughout their employment with the company. Someone with high energy and enthusiasm may be excited about the opportunity to work for your company, yet may only have skimmed the job description and therefore may not have picked up on nuances of the job and that could curb their enthusiasm once on board in the role. A result- driven individual might be expecting a detail driven individual to be ramping up faster during the onboarding process once hired and this could cause a disconnect based on expectations.

Below are a few questions that interviewees can ask to align expectations with the position they are applying for:

  • What will the first week of employment look like for me?
  • Who will be responsible for teaching me the company culture and the way of doing things?
  • Will the person mentoring me be in the same job location as I am?
  • How will you measure the results of my performance during the initial stages of my hire?
  • How long has it taken others in your company to learn company preferences after they start?

Similarly, below are a few questions that hiring managers can ask when interviewing a potential new hire to find out if expectations will align if they move forward with the offer:

  • What do you know about our company?
  • What do you know about the culture of our company (core values, mission, vision)?
  • How were you trained at your current/last company?
  • Who was responsible for training you and what were they like, personality wise?
  • How long did it take for you to be comfortable with your position at your current/last company?
  • What do you think you need to learn about this company and this job if you join our team?

In conclusion, have you ever thought something was going to be easier or take less time than it actually turned out? Have you ever met someone only to find out over time that they are not the person you initially thought? Indeed has it right, employees resign or get terminated on a regular basis for taking a job that didn’t play out as either they or the company expected.

Remember that it is “people for jobs and not jobs for people.” Companies could not survive if they were routinely changing their requirements and position responsibilities to align with only the things an employee cared to perform, regardless of what was expected as part of the job description for which they were hired. A successful employment match comes from not only an accurate job description and communication of expectations on the employer side, but also a candidate’s adherence and acceptance to perform the job responsibilities for which they were hired.

To Clarifying Reality,

Suzanne Breistol


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