What to Expect From Your Job

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Everyone begins a new job chock full of expectation. Will this be the best job you’ve ever had? Will you be the star of the show? Will you make friends? Will you get promoted? Mostly the expectations start at good and can reach sky-high dimensions. While it’s great to be excited about a new job and hope for the best, you, of course, understand that not all of your expectations will be met. But what are some expectations that definitely should be? In my experience, the three most important aspects of a fulfilling job are:

· Opportunity for growth

· Honest feedback

· Balance between trust and support

Let’s break it down.

Opportunity for growth does not mean that you will get promoted within a year or whatever arbitrary amount of time you may think up for yourself. No, opportunity for growth means that you are given the chance to check out what you like versus what you don’t like, where you really shine versus what you should consider never doing again.

For example, I once had a job where a large percentage of my time was spent planning events. Being a big picture person, I really struggle with the detail side of things. I knew this was a weakness and while I could improve myself to some extent, this will never be my strong suit. It didn’t take me long to realize that event planning was absolutely not for me.

But how do you discover what you do like to do?

Take note of the tasks on which you expend the most effort, those that you take extra special care to complete perfectly and keep you fully engaged. It’s likely that they are the ones that require no procrastination, maybe they are the first to get crossed off your to-do list. Once you notice these, keep a running list.

If you can boil those favorite tasks into specific skill sets, the next step would be to learn more about them — it’s likely there’s a class you can take or maybe a workshop in which you can participate.

A good job and a good manager will always try to cultivate that desire to learn more about yourself and give you every chance to take advantage of learning opportunities. In fact, some of the best places to work have a built-in budget for professional development courses or provide tuition reimbursement for higher education coursework.

Keep in mind that the tasks you love the most may not always be things at which you are already a pro. That’s okay! If something interests you and you would like to see more of it in your career, take the time to grow that interest into something valuable.

On the flip side, you may find areas that just don’t suit you, that’s totally fine! While it may not be possible to shuck those responsibilities completely, it may be something you keep in mind when searching for future opportunities. Also, don’t be afraid to bring the topic up with your supervisor or team lead — they may just be amenable to adjusting your workload so that you are doing more of what you like and less of what you loathe.

This leads right into “good job” aspect number two — honest feedback!

Maybe we don’t always admit it, but we’re kind of addicted to feedback. Of course, we love hearing how well we’re doing, but it’s also important to know when you can improve and how.

You should also be able to provide feedback — this may be to your manager, to your colleagues or, hey, even to your barista! Everyone can appreciate a little constructive feedback if it is given with the right intent.

A good workplace will provide you with both sides of the coin — feedback on how you’re performing as well as an outlet to give feedback to others. Maybe this is in the form of an app, or maybe it’s through regular meetings. Whatever it is take advantage of it, and if you can’t find it — ask! You might just be the trailblazer that makes this happen at your company.

A couple of caveats on feedback — even though it’s awesome, it can sometimes be hard to give and take. Here are three things to keep in mind to make it easier:

1. Focus on the behavior, not the person — it shouldn’t be a personal attack in any way, but instead a highlight of a specific action that either worked or didn’t.

2. Intent is everything — if you’re the one giving feedback, make it clear why you are sharing that specific sentiment, it will give context and minimize misunderstanding; if you’re the one receiving it, consider why you are hearing what you’re hearing — try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes without immediately jumping to conclusions.

3. Don’t Nitpick — again, this works both ways, if you’re getting feedback try to zoom out instead of gripping onto something insignificant and obsessing about it; evaluate what you are hearing, consider how you can implement it into your work but don’t obsess or fall apart over a stray comment that hit a nerve! When giving feedback, remember that tendency to over-focus and try to give actionable feedback instead of making off-hand comments and opinions that may result in a flurry of negative thinking.

Finally, a good workplace will provide you with a stellar balance between trust and support. Why are those two on opposite sides?

Because trust means that you can do your job without feeling that someone is looking over your shoulder. It means that you can take a time off without needing to make up an excuse. Trust means that you are free to do your job without unnecessary hoops through which you have to jump.

But there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. If you get no direction on your projects, if you never see or hear from anybody in a position of leadership, if you find yourself thinking “man, I wish someone cared about whatever it is I just did today” — that’s when trust has crossed over into the no support zone.

You have every right to expect guidance from your supervisor. You should also have a clear understanding of what you are doing and why it’s important. And if, at any point, you do not, you should be able to directly address it with someone and expect a resolution in a timely manner.

These expectations may not be glamorous, but if they aren’t met you will likely grow frustrated and unhappy in your job. Consider this when interviewing — it may provide some good questions to ask, making you look like a total interview badass! Then, keep considering them even after you get the job.