As new entrants embark upon their career trajectory, a few things become apparent quite quickly. Firstly, employee and employer are at opposing spectrums of the expectations/reality radar—the result? A negative experience for both parties. An employee becomes disengaged, the employer becomes frustrated with the employee, hardly a win-win situation! Simple but effective measures can be put in place by both parties,  bringing about the sought after win-win situation.

Expectations Unfolded

Come with me down memory lane as I recall my first entry into the corporate world. Having gained a decent 1st degree, my expectations were in the realms of fantasy. I envisaged being hired at a strategic level, receiving twice a realistic salary; you get the picture!

Yes, I was living in a fantasy land! When the aforementioned failed to materialise, I could not marry the reality with my expectations.

Reality Revealed

Initially,  it was a sharp reality check, clearly revealing my expectations did not align with those of my employers and vice versa. Disengagement seeped in and quite quickly manifested itself in my work and general demeanour. The CEO  luckily gave me an excellent piece of advice. Her advice was simple:

“it’s not where you start; it is where you finish. Whatever job you start with, give it 100%, what you don’t know, learn. Let others see your potential for themselves.”

I took the wise words onboard and adjusted my mindset accordingly. I invested in myself, attended various personal development workshops, professional development courses, sourced for a mentor, grew my networking circles and the rest, as they say, is history.

Upon reflection, my expectations did not align with the reality on the ground, and I adjusted after the much-needed reality check. This rarely happens in today’s corporate environment, resulting in the entry talent experiencing high employee disengagement levels.

So what can be done to establish realistic expectations by both parties?

The advice I proffer to those in the position of the entry-level employee is this: “Remember, as an employee, you were hired because they saw potential in you – it is your job to ensure they don’t stop seeing it.”

The following is not an exhaustive list, but it is a start:

  • Be a sponge and absorb all information being thrown at you, mentally store the critical, save the interesting and discard the noise.
  • What you don’t know, find a way to learn (seek internal and external learning & development opportunities, ask or self-fund for relevant professional development courses).
  • Learn to walk before you start running – understand the company’s value eco-system and how you can or will fit into it?
  • Devise your first 90-day plan and share this with your Line Manager; it is a good method to manage expectations and be sure of alignment. (The First 90 days is a brilliant book to explain the key objectives fully)

Employers are also required to invest time and resource in their entry-level talent (Emerging Stars). This will buck the trend of rising employee disengagement. One of the most powerful methods to fully engage entry-level talent is a reverse mentoring programme. Availing the opportunity to understand the how and why of the non-alignment between expectations and reality on both sides.

Whilst entry-talent employees are one segment of the workforce. If engaged, supported and challenged, they could become future leaders. For the moment, they are. . .

Do you want a structured framework to support your career development? 

Download our strategic career development roadmap, supporting realistic planning & mapping of career goals!



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