See if you can relate to any of these scenarios:

  • I’ve just been hired into a new company;

  • I’ve recently been introduced to a new boss;

  • I’ve been promoted to a new position.

Regardless of which scenario resonates with you, there are commonalities among them. One that I’d like to talk about today is how you come to understand what is expected of you, and how you effectively establish expectations for those reporting to you.

There are formal ways to understand what is expected of you. These include things like your job description, company policies, and perhaps performance targets. Then there are the less explicit things that you will come to recognize through observation and conversation. As an employee, what are the established methods of communication and how are they used? Emails? Meetings? Formal presentations? Impromptu exchanges? Paying attention to how information is shared, with whom, and when will help you to navigate these sometimes unspoken expectations.

With these observations in hand, it helps to test your assumptions with your boss and peers. These conversations can lend important nuances to the patterns you have identified. For example, your boss may have established bi-weekly meetings with you that are guided by an agenda. However, it is their expectation that you email or text them (based on the degree of urgency) should an issue arise between these meetings rather than waiting for the meeting to apprise them.

Now, if you’ve got people who report to you, I would ask you to take some time to consider what your expectations are of others. How will they come to understand what’s important to you? One of my guiding principles is not to let me be surprised. In other words, if something occurs — positive or negative — I’d prefer to hear it quickly and directly so that we can celebrate or strategize. As I’ve come to understand this about myself, I make sure to share it with those who work with me. The more transparent I can be about my expectations, the easier it will be for them to meet those expectations.

How do you come to learn the expectations when you start a new job or role? And, how do you help those who work for you to understand your expectations?