Expectations are a nebulous thing and prone to causing numerous issues. Expectations differ by person and by circumstance. For example, if you’ve been to a restaurant before and know what their average table service is like your expectations are lowered so they are usually met. If you’ve never been to a restaurant before, but have heard good things about it, your expectations are raised. Someone else who has had the opposite experience will have the opposite expectations.
When you start work for a new ministry, go to work in a new position, deal with new people, there is a set of expectations that you have with regard to the people you work with and that the people you work with have of you. These expectations are built on past experience and, in some cases, your desires. When you change jobs/projects/ministries there is a desire for things to be “better”. When someone new comes into an already existing position you hope that they are, at the least, the same as the previous person if not “better”.
Are those expectations appropriate? It doesn’t matter, they are there and you have to deal with them.
This is particularly evident in the area of “contingent labour” (aka contractors). We go through a long process to bring a contractor on board and that includes justifying why the role exists and why that role needs to be filled by contingent labour. There is an inherent expectation that the role will be filled by someone who is appropriate for the positon and that they will have the necessary skills to excel at the position. Yes, excel, not meet or barely pass. The expectation is excellence and that can be a difficult expectation to live up to due to the differing backgrounds and experiences of everyone involved.
But that is the price of being a contractor. You don’t get the opportunity to gradually work your way into the position, of feeling out the different parties involved to understand the role better and, more importantly, their expectations. You are thrust into the role with a set of expectations that you may not be able to meet regardless of whether or not you are the best person in the world for that position.
So, whether or not you are an employee, a contractor, or something in between, there are a set of expectations that you need to live up to: yours and everyone elses. Finding out what those expectations are and how you can achieve them are critical to your success.