How To Communicate Schedule Expectations To Your Boss

Robin Schwartz

Expectations within the workplace exist in duality. There’s what your employer expects from you and what you expect from your employer. Typically, during the interview phase, an opportunity exists to discuss the schedule and expectation of hours for a position if they aren’t clearly posted.

It shouldn’t surprise most employees that their bosses may need to request more of them at times.

Employees want to impress their bosses but also want to feel respected and appreciated. Not taking advantage of their time is one of the best ways to do that.

Right after being hired is one of the best opportunities to discuss your expectations.

Take an opportunity to talk with your new boss about the position expectations in detail and ask specific questions about hours of work, past overtime needs, and flexible schedule options when workload demands extra hours. After you’ve received the expectations you’re being held to, talk about what you expect from the position and employer. Be open and honest with schedule limitations you have. For example, if you’re in graduate school at night, make sure the employer is aware.

It is mutually beneficial for employees to pursue additional education so employers should be respectful of the time (outside of their office hours) where you’ve committed yourself to another venture.

Saying something to the effect of “I’m willing to be flexible with my schedule; however, I do have scheduled graduate classes on Monday and Thursday evenings. Hopefully we can discuss anything that needs attention outside of office hours without impacting my attendance.”

If you find yourself consistently working more than you’re scheduled or being asked to take on more duties but don’t feel you have the available time, take an opportunity to analyze what a standard day in the office might be like for you.

  • Are you in multiple meetings throughout the day that doesn’t always require your attendance?
  • Is your work setup preventing you from focusing on tasks because of constant interruption?
  • When you have the authority to delegate work, are you doing so? Or, do you insist that you can get things done faster?
  • Have you taken stock of your own behaviors and cut out as much waste as possible from your day?

When you think about the factors that might prevent you from getting your work done within your scheduled 40 hours, think also if any of those factors can be remedied.

  • Ask your boss if you can join a meeting remotely via telephone so you’re able to multitask until the group needs your input.
  • Consider requesting scheduled times to work from home if office interruptions are proving to be too much and taking your time away from the tasks you need to do.
  • Make sure to tackle important projects and tasks at the beginning of the day. If the day gets busy and you find 5:00pm is rapidly approaching, what’s left undone should hopefully not have the urgency as that which you started on at the beginning of the day.
  • Are there tasks that you’ve identified that may be redistributed to similar positions within your organization? Directly ask if your supervisor is open to reassigning tasks below your current skill set. Discuss with your supervisor whether there’s a lower level employee wanting to gain additional experience. This might be a perfect training opportunity for another employee while allowing you to reduce the tasks.

Explaining to your boss you want to do your job efficiently – both for yourself and the company – is an indicator of an engaged and responsible employee.

If you have a boss that is notorious for dropping off a new project on a Friday afternoon with an “ASAP” deadline, find an opportunity to address the behavior with him or her.

Outwardly informing your boss you don’t like getting new work at 3pm on Friday isn’t going to be an effective tool to modify the behavior.

Instead, consider saying “Friday afternoons tend to be a difficult time to start new projects since I’m typically focused on wrapping up loose ends on other projects before they’re due. I want to ensure that the proper time is put into any project you ask me to assist with. Is it possible to meet on Thursdays to discuss anything you foresee needing assistance with before the end of the week?”

A reasonable and intuitive boss will be able to read between the lines and understand you don’t appreciate getting new tasks late on a Friday but instead want to have the opportunity to address needs in advance.

Continuing to practice regular open communication between you and your boss will make conversations around expectations easier as your professional relationship evolves. You’ll also stand to develop a positive reputation with your boss as someone who is flexible, open and wants to succeed in your role.

About The Author

Robin Schwartz

Robin Schwartz has nearly a decade of experience providing HR expertise to employees and management in higher education. Her broad experience includes benefits, compensation, performance management, employee relations, payroll, talent acquisition and management. She received her masters degree from American Military University and maintains a PHR certification.

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