Don’t Let Me Down


By Phil Harwood

Take a minute and think of a time when someone let you down. You were expecting something to happen but then something else happened instead. You didn’t see it coming. You were caught off guard. 

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What was your emotional response? Do you remember? Were you angry? Disappointed? Sad? Hurt? And how did that affect your relationship with the person who let you down? Were you able to recover from it? Or was it the end of your relationship?

This blog is actually about employee recruiting and retention. But I wanted to get your wheels turning because there is commonality in all forms of unmet expectations. One of these common themes is the element of surprise. When people are let down due to unmet expectations that often say things like:

“I had no idea!”
“If I only would’ve known earlier!”
“Why didn’t someone tell me?”
“This came as a surprise!”
“I was blindsided!”
 “I can’t believe this is happening!”
Emotions are difficult to manage when we are angry, confused, or feel taken advantage of. Lack of clarity around expectations shows up, in all aspects of our lives, both virtually, and personally. Regardless of the context, unmet expectations often lead to conflict and disputes. And when disputes are not resolved, there is often separation. 

In the employment context, separation may mean voluntary termination of employment. The person with a grievance simply decides it’s time to move on. I believe this accounts for a large majority of employment separations today. As an industry, we have much room to grow in this area. We need to do a better job with providing clarity around expectations, especially during the recruiting and on-boarding phases. Too often, new hires find themselves disappointed by unmet expectations and they quietly move on, leaving the employer scratching their heads or blaming the “snowflake” generation.  

We need to stay much closer to new hires, especially within the first year of their employment. We can’t just hire bodies and send them out to work, hoping everything will be alright. In my opinion, this is one of the most neglected areas in many companies. If that is true, then there is a great opportunity to make a significant difference.

Where to start? If you’re not sure, have a candid conversation with your most recent new hires. They may have some insight for you. Visit your peers and learn what they’re doing that you’re not doing. Someone should be meeting with new employees every day during their first week of employment to discuss how the day went, what was good, what wasn’t, etc. This could change to a weekly meeting for weeks two through four, monthly in months two and three, and then quarterly forever. 

My belief is that this isn’t a question of what to do to improve. It’s more a question of a company’s willingness to invest in this area. The reality is that companies are spending more than ever before on recruiting and retention but not seeing results. Maybe it’s time to take a different approach and focus on what matters most - clarifying and meeting expectations. Don’t let me down!

Now go forth. 

Tags: Recruiting , Expectations , Letting someone down , Disappointed ,