Great Expectations – Do You Need an Attitude Adjustment?

Why can two Workampers (or two couples) work at the same place, for the same employer, yet have very different experiences? Assuming they all have the skills to do their jobs, expectations and attitude make the difference.

by Jaimie Hall Bruzenak

We can get in trouble by thinking that things will go according to our expectations even when a Workamper employer spells out the job and answers your questions during the interview.

For example, your work week is 30 hours. The employer may mean that most of the time you’ll work 30 hours, but sometimes there will be fewer hours if it isn’t busy, and sometimes— at holidays—you could be required to work more hours. The employer is answering the question she heard and doesn’t think about the exceptions. You hear that you’ll be working 30 hours/week all season. Right away, there is a difference in expectations.

The same can happen with other questions you could ask—about your duties or your RV site. The employer doesn’t mention a particular duty because it is incidental or assumed (in his mind). Since it wasn’t mentioned, you expect that you won’t have to do it.

Less Obvious

There are other expectations that rarely get discussed. For example, you’re a high energy person; a satisfying job to you is where you can make improvements in how things are done. You may be disappointed when the boss doesn’t want to hear your ideas and gets angry when you reorganize the supply closet. Or, they don’t do things the way your last employer did.

You may be new to the lifestyle and assume the owners and other Workampers are excited to be here and this job will be lots of fun. Or, just the opposite, the newbie go-getter, irritates you. 

Perhaps you can see where these expectations will get you in trouble. It can cause stress and  upset within yourself. The employer doesn’t want you to reorganize his business, plus Workamping is real life; people bring their personalities and baggage with them.

What To Do?

Sometimes the employer doesn’t give enough detail; often the Workamper doesn’t ask questions to clarify. There’s no sense blaming the employer. Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to find out more, especially if it is important to you.

The Workamper needs to follow up with additional questions, particularly if it makes a difference. Whether you need 30 hours or don’t want to work a minute over 30 hours, a couple of followup questions can clarify that quickly:

  • Is that 30 hours/week guaranteed?
  • Will I ever be expected to work more than 30 hours?
  • How often does that usually happen?

The answers will help determine if you want this position or if you can negotiate something to your liking.

When you have expectations that relate to other people or conditions outside yourself, don’t be surprised when they aren’t met.

If it is something you’ve previously discussed during the interview and it has changed, you’ll need to discuss it right away with the employer. Not addressing the issue is the same as agreeing to it. Your silence is like saying it is okay. Even if you failed to discuss the exceptions to the 30 hours, talk about it right away and find out if working more (or less) will continue. If necessary, let the employer know your limits and then hold them to it. If there are not enough hours—or too many—you may need to look for alternate or additional employment.

For the other types of expectations or assumptions you had that turned out to not be accurate, see if you can change your attitude and not let it get to you by soothing yourself with some of these statements:

  • This is a job, not a career. I’m getting paid no matter how I spend my time.
  • We won’t be here forever. It’s a means to an end. We’re getting to travel, spend time in this area exploring (or visiting family) and living our dream.
  • It could be interesting to find out more about this person (or operation).
  • I will do the best job I can and not worry about anyone else.
  • If the owner’s business fails, it’s no skin off my nose. I’ll be out of here by then.
  • I can find satisfaction in a job well done and be proud of myself. I don’t need praise or recognition.
  • I now have a better idea of what I want in my next job.
  • This will be a Workamping experience on my resume.

You do have options when situations like this happen. First, clarify information in the interview. Discuss it with the employer when it first happens and then you can decide how to act.

And, if you can, remember that “this too shall pass.”

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