Setting the Bar: Job Expectations

Every employee wants to do a good job.  Each individual wants to know how to contribute.  Every person wants to be valued.  The fact is that most don’t understand how to be effective on the job. Why? Often no one has taken the time to explain the job’s deliverables. And the time to do that is during the hiring process.

Large and small business leaders alike fall into a trap when they have a job opening.  They leap into the hiring process; posting the job, writing ads, reaching out to their networks to find the right candidate.  And so the hunt begins. After years of recruiting and hiring, I can assure you this is a false start.  If you aren’t crystal clear about your expectations; if you haven’t written down the knowledge, skills, abilities, drive, desire, behavioral traits this position requires; how will you know when you find the “right” individual?  And please don’t tell me, it’s a gut feeling!

Try these actions, next time you are filling a role:

  1. Take out the current job description and analyze it.  Are the responsibilities and tasks still relevant? Will doing the things listed move your organization toward success?
  2. If it’s a new position, determine the deliverables associated with the job.  Does the person in this role have to: build something?  deal with customers via phone or online chat?  write marketing collateral? operate a machine?  sell products to walk-in customers?  
  3. What are the measures of success in this position?
  4. What are the required skills and talents this person must possess in order to be successful?  This question, although it seems apparent, is often the toughest to answer.  If you’ve got a high performer in a similar role use this person as a model. What does this person do that makes her a standout performer? How does she do it?  Don’t know?  Ask her.  If this is a new position, look at other organizations for ideas.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask your employees for input. They know what it takes to be successful and effective in your environment.  In many cases, they are closer to the actual work than you are. Capture their inputs and you will not only gain valuable information, but build rapport with your team.

Having a list of expectations gives you, the hiring manager clarity.  During your interviews you can ask questions that will determine whether your candidate has these attributes and skills.  You can figure out if the candidate can transfer their knowledge into needed action.  You can listen to hear if the candidate has the drive and willingness to be successful in this role.

Building a set of expectations makes for a more concise job posting, a targeted interview and a better candidate selection.  Clear expectations are a foundational element for job satisfaction, strong performance and organizational success.