The ultimate fatal mistake when starting your dream job

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Sep 09

When we start our jobs, it’s easy to simply coast along with whatever the manager is giving you to do. But coasting doesn’t make for success in a new job, especially our dream job. Too often, people start new jobs and then are gone from them within eighteen months. Sure, sometimes we misjudge the fit between the company and ourselves. Sometimes, we’re just wrong for the job and we should move on.

But too often, we make the ultimate fatal mistake when we start are dream job: we fail to understand how to achieve our business goals.

Goals need setting for us to achieve

Assuming your manager even gives you goals. That’s the first hurdle to overcome: ensuring your manager gives you goals so that you can go about achieving them. Too often, managers give us work to do, put off giving us goals and three months later we find we’ve accomplished nothing.

When we have accomplished nothing of significance, we end up with performance reviews that reflect nothing of significance done. Along with any pay raises or bonuses to boot.

If your manager isn’t willing to give you goals to work on, then you should create your own goals and get permission to work them. Goals are what give you focus and purpose in your work. Not to mention the ability to push back on extraneous work not related to your goals.

Goals need to be SMART — For You

Most goals are not written to show your accomplishments, but the department’s accomplishments. Most goals measure department activities, not personal activities. Consequently, your performance is hidden when achieving team goals — and lower performance ratings are given because your excellent work is brought to a lower rating by others average work.

So whether your goals are given to you in the SMART format or not, you need to ensure that the SMART criteria is met — for your work on your goals.

Goal attainment is a story

Goals, like a budget, describe a way to achieve the goal — otherwise, the goal wouldn’t be “attainable.” One shouldn’t just take the goal and go start doing stuff; you need to understand how the goal was going to be met so you can focus on that.

“Increasing inventory turns by 10%” can be a good goal — but there are a hundred different ways to achieve it. Is the increase from better stocking of best selling items? Is it eliminating 25% of the inventory that are slow sellers? Is it installing a software system that tracks sales better allowing better inventory levels?

When people start off in jobs and don’t have goals and the story about how to attain them, they fail. Their manager fails them by not providing the right direction and the team fails them by not supporting what needs doing.

Get to your goals and the way to achieve them early in your new job. If you don’t, it is a red flag briskly waving in the breeze about your capacity for success in your dream job.

Have you always gotten your goals within a week of starting a new job?


About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.