Updated: May 22
Adulthood has many accomplishments-graduation, marriage, or becoming a parent. People proudly share these things, but few share challenges. When thrown into the real world, you’re expected to have your life together and to be able to support yourself. Sometimes that’s the most challenging step, making the right decisions for yourself. One big choice is where you want to start your career. How do you know you and your employer are a good fit? What should they be providing? As someone who is young and has a couple of years of full-time work, I understand what should be expected from your job and how to communicate those needs. Today, I’m turning the tables and outlining my workplace wishlist for any companies looking to hire talent (and I’m talking about you—you are the talent).
Your job performance is a critical factor that determines your productivity and whether you’re achieving company goals. Setting measurable and realistic goals with your supervisor or whoever you work with is essential. It’s best to have a conversation to go over details and a timeline, so both parties know what you’re working on and when you’ll have it done. This is for both short-term and long-term goals. Once you understand what your tasks and goals are in your position, you will want to know how to make sure you’re on the right track and hitting those goals. Tracking your work progress can show how well you’re moving with your assigned work, and your supervisor can check in to see if you need support. If an issue arises, it’s nice knowing that a coworker can work with you to resolve a problem or take any load to ensure you meet a deadline. If they leave you out to dry, it sends you a red flag, knowing you’re not a team wanting to achieve a mutual goal.
When I started my first job, I wanted to understand the tasks I would be assigned and the project management flow from when the task was assigned to when it was marked as complete. Our team used project management software to monitor progress and prioritize our daily tasks. It’s good to understand how your team manages projects and the approval process before sending them to the client. My boss and I would meet bi-weekly to discuss my work and share any concerns about deadlines.
Open communication is vital between you and your supervisor so they can assist you when an issue arises or there are complications between the client. Your position may look a little different, but consistency and transparency with your boss and team must be consistent and transparent to reach success.
Reflecting on the goals you achieved encourages you to keep pushing forward. Ask yourself, what went well? What can you do to improve? Doing this can make you feel confident the next time you’re assigned a task. It’s also important to celebrate these completions, big or small! Setting these goals can make young employees establish a roadmap for their professional growth and measure their performance.
“Communication is key,” said literally everyone.
But it’s said for a reason! Without effective communication in the workplace, you’re destined to perform poorly. Working on a team with clear communication can improve collaboration and ensure everyone is on the same page. Starting a new role means learning everyone’s work style. Meeting with individuals you work closely with to understand their process is best. It’s great to ask your coworker the best way to get a hold of them during the workday. Are they in the same office as you? Or do they work from home? Do they prefer you to approach them at their desk, send them a quick chat through Microsoft Teams, or email them? Once you’ve cleared this, you’ll know how to get a hold of them promptly to get your answers.
You should be somewhere you feel you can both lead the conversation and participate as a team member. Everyone feels comfortable sharing their voice.
When leading conversations, I pause to allow others to ask questions or comment.
If you want to ensure everyone has a chance to speak, you can “pass the baton” to individuals in the meeting, so there’s no awkward silence when waiting for someone to go next.
Talking out an issue with all participating parties is the best way to find a resolution. If there’s a problem, bring it to light, and handle it professionally. Transparency and honesty are vital in communication. Tough conversations will happen at work but letting the receiving party know that you are coming from a genuine place and they’re not in trouble saves them from overthinking and assuming the worst.
Work-life balance is hard to achieve for someone in a salaried position. That’s why companies must be flexible with their employees regarding life’s situations. If they expect you to handle a crisis outside your work hours, they should be considerate if you need to leave
work early for your kids or an appointment. It’s also important to set boundaries for yourself. If someone sends you a non-emergency email at 10 p.m., you are not obligated to respond to them until the next work day unless stated otherwise. It might feel weird — especially if you saw it— but if you reply, it breaks your boundary and makes you appear available 24/7.
Some people genuinely just work like this, or it’s an email they needed to send asap, or they would have forgotten the next day. If this is you, the “schedule send” option for your email is your best friend! Setting these boundaries right away will prevent you from burning out and will develop a healthy relationship with your coworkers.
If you work in a position that can be done from home, working from home should be available to you. More organizations are providing a hybrid option for employees.
Communication, setting goals, and work flexibility are just some of the many expectations you should see from your company. People say, “the younger generation doesn’t want to work.” *Insert an aggressive eye roll here* To me, that’s not the case; young employees are finally putting their foot down and asking for these basic needs from their employer, or they’ll simply walk away. It’s time to meet the expectations of the younger generations who will soon run the world.