When he got to the office on his first day, he was greeted by the HR Director who shuffled him off to a windowless room to fill out the necessary paperwork. Once the paperwork was done, his boss walked him around the office. It was a fairly typical first day.
The next few weeks he was busy learning about the company, mostly from reading documents and doing internet research, not because that was effective, but because nobody had time to devote to helping him.
As a consultant and manager, he eventually grew comfortable in his role and took charge of the situation by finding the answers to questions on his own. The day to day work was not bad, but something was beginning to bother him. He never really felt like he was doing a good job.
Weeks turned to months. Jim brought work home every night and his family was starting to complain. Finally in a heated argument with his wife, he recognized that he had no idea what was expected of him at work and consequently would never feel like the job was done.
Unfortunately, Jim’s situation is not unusual.
Fifty percent of all new hires who quit prematurely complain about unclear expectation. Executives fail to meet expectations because success was never clearly defined, according to the Corporate Leadership Council, an association of human resource executives.
Frankly, this is just lazy. Everyone wants to feel like they are doing a good job by meeting or exceeding expectations, but if the expectations are never clearly defined, employees are robbed of a sense of feeling good and managers are unable to articulate why someone is or is not destined for success.
Fortunately there is an easy fix to the fifty percent problem. For every role in your company you want to know the specific measurable results and behaviors that an effective person would produce at the end of 30, 60, and 90 days. For extra credit, define expectations for the first six months and one year milestones.
The key is to clearly define the expectations in terms of behaviors as well as results. If you do not see the expected level of behavior then you will not likely see the expected level of results. If you are unable to articulate the expectations in terms of behaviors then you are destined to keep non-performers too long and encourage people like Jim to find a new job.
Merit Gest is President and Founder of Merit-Based Development, a Denver based firm specializing in onboarding top talent. She is one of a small handful of specialists in the world certified and trained in both Emotional Intelligence and Cultural Transformation Tools, giving her a unique perspective for hiring, onboarding and retaining top talent.