Establishing New Hire Expectations and Employee Responsibilities

Most employees don’t know what’s expected of them at work, according to a Gallup poll from October 2015. That’s alarming.

Many companies run on a system where everyone just “works hard and pitches in” without stopping to think about which tasks fall on whose plate when the chips are down. New employees shouldn’t be expected to figure this out for their employers, but sometimes they must.

So here’s what you can do to join your new team smoothly and productively.

Set Deadlines for Yourself

As the new person in the workplace, you probably aren’t in a position to dictate who should do what, or when they should do it.

But you can create a new culture of accountability and efficiency by setting the example-not as a leader, but as a first among equals.

Set the deadline for yourself, and let people know to expect it from you. Your teammates and supervisors will be impressed with you, especially if that sort of behavior wasn’t the norm before your arrival.

In time, your teammates will begin delivering what you need when you need it to meet your own deadlines. That will help them set expectations for the entire group, and the behavior will become something to strive for.

Then they’ll start imitating you by setting their own due dates, and begin setting mutually agreed-upon deadlines with other team members. It will evolve into a culture of accountability, if your employer has hired good people.

It’s a snowball effect that begins with you.

Suggest Upward Approval Chains

Companies throw around the words “cross-functional teams” without really understanding what they mean-and it often results in vague processes or responsibilities that fail during crunch periods.

Work around situations likes this by suggesting an editorial or approval process in which everything moves up the chain of command (be it about project management, programming, or legal counsel).

This isn’t about becoming so corporate that nothing gets done. Instead, it represents a middle ground where junior employees take a task or project as far as possible before handing it to the next person, clearly designated to supervise them. It lets people focus on what they do best instead of trying to do everything at the same time.

What you don’t want is for someone to leave something half-finished because no one responded to their general requests for help on the company Slack channel. It happens far more frequently than you think, and that should scare managers.

Make every task a simple step toward completing a task or project with a clear way to progress.

Organize Responsibility With Simplicity

Companies always talk about supporting each other by jumping in on certain tasks, but no one can do everything. Most of those other people have their own projects keeping them busy!

Things get lost in that grey area of “support,” and it isn’t really the team’s fault. It’s up to leaders to assign tasks to certain people.

One of the best ways to make sure nothing slips through the cracks is to assign tasks according to type, project, team, or some other axis of responsibility. It will force people to jump in on certain tasks that would have been left in limbo just because it was labelled as a “team responsibility.”

How do you organize that when you aren’t the leader? You won’t get anywhere dictating this to your new team… but you can offer to take over responsibility for one aspect of the spectrum. For example, you could offer to take the lead on tasks according to:

  • Client
  • Skill (e.g. legal counsel, risk management, software engineering)
  • Project
  • Rank (tasks for juniors, intermediates, leaders)

Depending on your position in a company, try offering to take responsibility and accountability for the tasks along one of those lines.

This may “spark” an idea in someone else’s mind in which everybody could do the same thing. Brilliant!

Establishing clear organizational responsibilities is tough when you’re new to the team-especially if you weren’t hired for that job specifically. Yet bringing these ideas to the table for everyone else to discover in their own ways is often the key to setting them in place.

You just need to be willing to take the first step.

Want to find a workplace where you can make this happen? Continue the conversation with us at the Career Path Group to find them! Having one of the most seasoned executive job search agencies at your back never hurts, either.

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