Learning Lab: Job Clarity

3 min. read

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: As much as people bullshit on their resumes, so do organizations when they create job descriptions. 

Don’t get me wrong, job descriptions serve a purpose … however, they are packed full of buzzwords and checking boxes. Most managers I know would say a job description is a starting point. It checks the competency boxes, but what about credibility, context, how you build relationships and create impact?

Well, if you’re still reading, I’m guessing you got the job. Regardless if it’s been 2 days or 2 years, it’s time to dive in deeper and ask more questions.

A Ladderburners Learning Lab Experiment: JOB CLARITY

  1. Grab a highlighter, 6 post-it notes, and your job description. Mark it up.
  2. Set up a meeting with your manager. Tell them you’d like to get their take on your roles and responsibilities.
  3. The main question: “What are your expectations of me?
  4. Listen like hell. Ask questions. Get specifics. Take notes in a Burner Journal. You’ll need these later.

Here’s a quick video walking through some ideas for areas you could highlight to discuss with your manager.

Important Notes to Consider Before You Start
by our Ladderburning pal, Jerald Wright

The worse thing is setting up expectations and not delivering. Instead of building, you will be sliding backward. Just make sure you are ready. More than likely, you know what their key expectations are. Do not walk into this meeting without knowing you can deliver.

Be prepared for an unexpected response – such as they understand your perspective, but “you need more time” or “the promotion is going to Ruby.” Whatever you do, DO NOT argue that you are better. Continue on your path.

Do not do this if your performance has been questioned or your job is in trouble because your manager just “chewed you out” for not meeting the job requirements. Go back to your job description – and perhaps even the book – and review what you must do to meet the minimum. Do it consistently, and keep going with improved performance. Do not wait until they give you praise, just keep progressing. Know they are watching you.

Make sure you communicate after you have decided to achieve expectations. Share things like:

  • “Thank you for spending the time with me.”
  • “I appreciate the candid way you set out my goals and your expectations. I am working to meet them.”
  • “I would like to set up a review in a month for you to monitor my progress.”
  • “Thank you for showing interest in me.”

This needs to be in your words, but don’t forget these basics. Thank them, show appreciation, and ensure they understand you are improving. Never talk in the future. Talk about what you are doing.

And never promise anything more than you are sure you can deliver. I knew a manager that always stated his goals 50% less than he knew he could achieve. He kept the other 50% for when they wanted more and he could easily achieve with a turn of a button.

Cheating? No, because he has played this game for years. They generally ask for “Cost Management Items.”

Once you are meeting expectations and doing your job well, then apply the steps outlined above.

Remember a good manager can smell and see smoke being blown.

Follow along here for weekly experiments & career development support.

Or get the book to dive deeper right off the bat!

About the Ladderburner Learning Lab:
In Burn Ladders. Build Bridges. Pursuing Work with Meaning + Purpose, Patterson shares an essential formula for Ladderburners in pursuit of more at work. Chapter 7 dives into two of those skillsets – how to build a base of competence and credibility. This can be done through the Learning Lab – an approach to learning as much as you can about your job, the people around you, what success looks like, and how things really work inside the workplace. Learn more about the Ladderburner Learning Lab.