November 2, 2011

do you know what is expected of you at work?

When I started my first job, I had no idea what a job description should look like. In fact, I was naive enough to accept a position without seeing a proper description .Yes, it's true, I was swept away by what my very charismatic new manager told me in the hope that it would appear on paper soon after. I only received a written description a month after my start date.

Needless to say, I didn't enjoy my first job and it didn't last very long.

Not having a clear description of what is expected from your employer has been proven to be one of the fundamental elements that affect your engagement negatively (Gallup's Q12 Employee Engagement Survey). And besides influencing your attitude when going to work each day, if you don't know what is required for you to move up in your current role, you might be wasting your efforts on the wrong things.

The moment I moved into a new position where I knew exactly what was expected of me, I was free to start setting goals and performing well. So when choosing a new job or evaluating the position you're currently in, what are the things to look for? See if you can identify these categories in your position:

  • Duties & Responsibilities: These are the duties listed on your job description, describing what your tasks will look like on a daily basis: typing meeting minutes, running a certain project etc. When was the last time you reviewed yours? If it's outdated or vague, it might be a good idea discussing it with your manager in order to better allign it with your actual daily routine.
  • Key Performance Areas: KPA's are the measures by which your performance will be rated by your employer. Do you have an indication of what yours are? These can be things like meeting certain deadlines, achieving specified goals. Knowing which KPA's you'll be scored on (and how frequently) helps you focus your daily efforts correctly, and not spend all your energy on things that don't carry any weight in the eyes of your employer.
  • Corporate Values: These are typically found in your office policy or employee handbook, and apply to everyone regardless their position. Does your company have one of these? Every company's policy will look different, and some won't even take the time to put one in writing. It indicates which kind of behaviour will (or will not) be tolerated at the work place, focusing on topics like: confidentiality, non-smoking, relationships between colleagues etc. Although these aren't related to your job description, they draw clear boundaries within which you will need to operate on a daily basis.
  • Assignments from your Manager: These are not always communicated in writing and may cause a lot of frustration if you are getting vague requirements or contradicting assignments from the same source. Some managers will ask for a certain outcome and allow you to chose your own process, while others enjoy dictating your every step. Some struggle to express what it is they want altogether. A lot of this frustration may be relieved if you and your manager are able to understand the differences and/or similarities in the way you communicate. I tend to be distracted easily, so taking notes helps me think through the how's and the when's of an assignment while receiving it, guiding our discussion and eliminating confusion. Reading up on management styles even though you are the one being managed is also not a bad idea, as it may help you diagnose the situation correctly.

Any of you feeling confused about what is expected of you from your employer? Any plans for rescuing the situation?

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