July 2024 | Culture fit, Recruitment, Job search  –  

Despite the title, this article isn’t about a Charles Dickens novel. It’s instead about communicating and managing expectations when it comes to new recruits. As a hiring manager you have certain expectations when it comes to what you are looking for, and the same can be said for your candidates when it comes to what they expect a new role to involve. It’s important to communicate your expectations, be clear on the non-negotiables when it comes to the expertise you need and ensure your new recruit is truly aware of what their new role involves to ensure you are both successful.

I have noticed an interesting trend over the last 6-12 months where many businesses are not replacing a ‘like for like’ staff member when they resign. Often, they first absorb the role so they can evaluate where the gaps are and assess what key responsibilities are really required. Then after about 2-3 months, they recruit appropriately. Taking stock of what is really needed makes perfect sense. As we know business priorities can shift and roles can evolve over time. This can impact what the “right fit” for your organisation may look like. Perhaps in the tougher economic environment many are experiencing, leaner teams or reduced headcount is the best thing to do. By not replacing a role for a few months it also quickly becomes clear on what is missing, so you can prioritise the skills you need in your team and reevaluate your expectations.

The challenge for managers around this is to adjust to having leaner teams over the short term, and not have the expectation that new staff will hit the ground running. Be honest about your work environment, improvement areas and growth opportunities. Developing a structured or bespoke onboarding process will help highlight this for new team members, stepping out the culture of the organisation they are joining, their team and their specific role.

If expectations aren’t met, onboarding will suffer and lead to frustration, disappointment, and a breakdown in communication and trust. Being clear about your requirements helps employees know what’s expected of them and gives them a path to success. It also lets employers hold employees accountable and enables them to give measurable feedback when things aren’t going as planned. By proactively managing expectations well, employers can create a positive work environment, boost employee satisfaction, and improve overall performance.

I recently asked someone who had just started whether the role is what they thought it would be. They answered “unfortunately yes”. Of course he was being facetious, but if we hadn’t explained that the systems and processes were limited (non-existent) he probably wouldn’t have lasted the first couple of weeks as his expectations may been different from the reality.

From the employee’s side, it’s important to ask for clarification on job responsibilities, seeking feedback on performance, and talking about any challenges they’re facing. By taking the lead in managing expectations, employees can show their dedication to their job and their drive to perform.

Here are some tips to help you communicate your expectations:

  1. Think about your business priorities and what skills you really need. Do you have a BHAG (big hairy audacious goal)? – often if you start with the end in mind, you can then collaborate with your new staff member to create specific KPI’s or milestones.
  2. If roles have changed, make sure you capture this in position descriptions and have a clear mandate (the 4-6 things this role is ultimately responsible for).
  3. Communicate your expectations during the interviewing process.
  4. Set up an onboarding process that introduces your business, culture, the team and specific role deliverables.
  5. Provide regular feedback, addressing how expectations are being met or where improvements can be made and what’s been done well.

It’s a two-way street that requires proactive clear communication, honesty, and mutual understanding. By keeping expectations realistic and having open and honest communication, employers and employees can work together towards success in the workplace. This leads to a more positive and productive working relationship, higher job satisfaction, and ultimately, a more successful and thriving organisation.

Feel free to contact me to discuss any onboarding challenges you may have or if you’d like assistance in developing a structured process.

Happy recruiting

Author: Andrew Hill

Image by: Edmond Dantès