Importance of Setting Expectations When New Employees Start

Onboarding Process

When a new employee starts, you may have an onboarding process, a lunch with colleagues and training. While it is important to introduce the company, team members and the tasks the employee will perform, it is also very important to set expectations for the job.  

Setting expectations helps employees know from the beginning what they are to do and how they are to do it. A high percentage of employees fail because they either don’t know what the expectations of a job are or the expectations, they are aware of, aren’t clear. 

Take cultural expectations, for example. Every company has them. Does your company want everyone at their desk when work starts in the morning? Or are you a flex time company where workers can set their own hours? Do you expect people to be available 24/7 or do you stress work-life balance and leaving at 5 to take care of other responsibilities? 

Once you think about it that way, it’s easy to see how employees can go wrong if expectations aren’t set. Perhaps they have worked previously at a flex time company and don’t take a 9:00 a.m. start time that seriously, figuring they can make up a 9:15 start by working until 5:15. If you’re a be-here-on-the-dot company, an employee can get on the wrong side of both supervisors and colleagues if the expectations aren’t clear. 

It’s also important to let employees know what their goal expectations are. Most employees have competing priorities during the day. Should they work on the report due the first of next month, or update the team’s meeting calendars? The decisions become more productive if expectations are set about what the primary goals are. If reports are key to more funding for the department, they should take top priority. The employee should know that the expectation is for the top priorities to take precedence. 


Here’s some tips on setting expectations:

Set up mentors or shadow sessions

Cultural expectations like being on time in the morning or general availability are sometimes set forth in employee handbooks. But often the employee needs to pick up cues about cultural expectations informally, by observing how people behave. To make sure that they can easily pick up cues, it’s a good idea to set up mentor systems or shadow sessions on doing the work. 

A mentor can be short or long term and is responsible for showing the employee around and being available to answer questions about how the system works. To “shadow” someone generally means to follow them around during the day, while they demonstrate what tasks they do and how they do it. Both are informal enough that a person can pick up cues and ask questions easily. 

Discuss performance goals the first week

Employees need to know the goals and objectives that are key to their jobs. They need to know what the expectations are for their work. Managers should discuss the performance goals the first week, being sure to specify top priorities for the position. 

It’s a good idea to discuss the performance review system as well. Are employees evaluated at year-end, for example, or after the first three months? This can be part of the onboarding process as well. 


How a Staffing Firm Can Help Your Business

Staffing firms can offer methods of setting expectations, how best to hire top performers, and more. We’re happy to help you and your companyContact us today.