8 Common Misperceptions About Work

rob almeida offshore drilling
Rob Almeida on board the Discoverer Clear Leader in 2009

Many people will work from their teenage years to well into their 70s.  Work provides a vital role in our lives and we spend a great number of hours working, but many, if not all of us at one point in our lives, fall into the trap of having misplaced expectations about what we hope to get from our professional lives versus what we actually receive.

Here are eight common misperceptions:

  1. Expect work to provide the passion in your life.  Wrong.  Work is called “work” for a reason.  We do a good day’s work for good pay.  If our passions in life are integrated with work, that is terrific.  But do not expect your work to provide that.  It is important to find passion and delight in your life from something other than work, your family, a hobby, and your interests.
  2. Expect to learn from your boss. Wrong.  Managers come and go and as you get more experienced it is less and less likely that you will learn from your boss.  Early in your work life you do learn from all your co workers.   It is fine to expect to respect your boss, and to observe how he/she navigates the organization and manages their boss.
  3. Expect to move quickly to a leadership role.  Wrong.  Employers expect all employees to pay their dues by working well on teams, getting results, and fitting it.  Leadership now is a career choice and if leadership is in your career plans, look for leadership role models within your organization and learn how and when they chose to move into management.
  4. Expect your job will last a long time or provide “security.”  Wrong.  A job is a role within an organization for a period of time, or a project.  We will have many, many jobs in our work life. Careers generally last longer.  It is difficult to switch from a career from nursing to a career in plumbing, as an example.    People do it, but it takes a while.
  5. Expect the company to manage your career for you.  Wrong.  It is your role to understand how the organization works, how to focus on your current role while anticipating the next role.  And it is important to take initiative and ask for new roles and assignments.
  6. Expect your boss to give you great feedback.  Wrong.  Annual appraisals should be a positive experience.  It should be the quiet time in the year that you and your boss participate in a structured assessment of your accomplishments, skills and interests.  During the year you may receive little or no feedback about anything you do at work, and that is normal.
  7. Expect your workplace to provide you with a social life, or personal relationships.  Wrong.  Most employees in America work on teams of some kind and we all want to work well with our team members.  But expecting work to build your personal life is misplaced.
  8. Expect work to provide you and your family financial security.  Wrong.  Your pay and benefits are an important part of your short and long term goals.  But financial security is your job.  Your work is your family’s greatest investment and needs to be managed as such.

Perhaps the most important take-away is that it’s really up to you to achieve these eight things in your professional lives.  If it’s really important to you, pursue it with passion and take responsibility for your own professional fulfillment.