Monday, March 10, 2008

New Job and Expectations

I’m about three months into my new job.  Like any job there are some good and there are some bad, but I will be honest and say I’ve been frustrated at my job much more than I should be considering I am in what should be the honeymoon phase.

I think my biggest problem is probably a mismatch in expectations.   This is something crucial to get right whenever you start a job and it is something that I unfortunately did not do well here.

This company has the exact opposite problem I had at Microsoft.  Microsoft moved too slow for me; this company moves to fast.  I was expected to come in and start making some pretty big decisions and contribute right from the start.  For someone in my position, who has to understand the product, technology, and process to do his job effectively, this put me in a very awkward position and quite frankly hurt my credibility.   I needed time to get my bearings and learn the ropes.  It would have been foolish of me to come in and start making changes left and right.  Even with what I know now and the problems that are evident, it is clear that some people aren’t open to changing things.

Managing expectations, it is something everyone has to do well in every job.  It is even truer the higher you go up the food chain where expectations become big and every missed expectation is magnified.

This is probably something you really need to nail down before accepting the job.  I’m usually pretty careful about this and I would argue I was even with this job.  There are some things you just can’t know before you really start a job, but you should still do your best to get a lay of the land.  I suggest you do the following (which I did)

  1.  Ask what your success criteria will be in 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year

  2. Who will be assigned to help you learn the nuances particular to any company

  3. Do you have any immediate deliverables?

  4. Who will help you with those deliverables if your ramp up time is longer than expected?

It is my strong suggestion that you limit your responsibility and deliverables immediately after starting a new job.  Biting off too much when you start can be frustrating for all involved.  I have to say this is one thing that Microsoft did well when I started.   I literally had no responsibility the first month I got there.   In about month and a half in, I was expected to deliver my first deliverable and even then it was small and manageable.  Only after I went through my first full cycle (about 6 months in) was I really expected to drive and deliver.


  1. I agree that you should set boundaries of what you do and what you don't do. If you don't, people will expect you to fulfill those tasks or functions. Once you stop, those people will start an uproar and complain to your manager and others in the company.

  2. Not to mention predatory people will perceive you as a pushover. If you plan to be a leader, you need to exude confidence and professionalism. Be straight and you'll position yourself better not just today but also for tomorrow.

  3. If you don't clear up the ambiguity of what you don't do, you might end up keeping those functions or tasks. It's happened to me before. "You do that task so well. Why don't we make it part of your goals?" My former boss asked me. I hated that task and hated myself even more for not speaking up about it then. Don't make my mistake.

  4. Even if you're in a current job, if you feel your goals and expectations are off, talk to your manager immediately. The sooner you make it known, the less stressful you're going to feel.