So as I am now more focused on self and splitting my time back in Corporate America, I walked back into that world after my 4 year Stretch hiatus to notice some things that maybe most people don’t realize because they are trapped in the day to day. It also got me thinking about young people who start jobs and don’t have a role model or mentors to help them navigate adapting to the corporate environment. So at least for the next 10 entries, I’m dedicating content to provide value in this arena. Be sure to let me know your thoughts below.
What are the best ways to get value out of your corporate job and skyrocket? Here are 10 Top ways to do so:
X) You are at Work. Behave like it.
I’m all for making friends whenever I can. Even if they don’t last outside of the office, I like to think that anyone can come to me at any point, with serious intentions, I’d be there for them – ESPECIALLY when they were a good and hard worker. However, there are lines that shouldn’t be crossed in the office and asking your co-worker about their trip to Vegas is best asked outside of work hours. No yelling across the cubical inquiring if they will be naked at the pool. No chest bumping after seeing that hot girl drop and pick up something. I know your feet are killing you in those heels, but no walking around barefoot as it’s an accident waiting to happen. I’m all for kicking off the heels while seated and no one can see or smell, but walking around is too much for liability purposes. Also, keep the water cooler talk to a minimum. I watch and love Game of Thrones too, but talking about Jon Snow’s butt while someone’s on a phone call is not only distracting, but could be deemed offensive to those who don’t find Jon Snow’s butt all that appealing. I don’t know what planet they would be from, but they work in your office and do business with your company so they help pay your bills. Be courteous to what may offend them.
IX) Make Recommendations when appropriate.
The most simultaneously beautiful and horrific thing about being on a team in an corporate environment is meetings. It’s a time the team comes together to communicate and drive each other forward, but it’s also a time where half of things can be reserved for emails or sessions with your psychologist. If something is making your job harder, if it affects productivity, it’s a concern. If it doesn’t, then it’s most likely a personal gripe. DO really ask if the job can be done in the time allotted with the method you prefer, DON’T fight the job if it can still be delivered in the time requested. In other words, your boss wants you to deliver within 24 hours. If there’s something slowing you down from that request, speak up. If you can achieve completion of the job within the time allotted, then just do as asked. However, if there is something that will be missed while completing the job as it stands, then ask if those measurements or system of tracking will be important in the future. In other words, you’re getting paid to do it however your supervisor sees fit, but if it affects deliverables or the bottom line, speak up! All comments about your bunions and last night’s episode of Bachelor in Paradise can be reserved for lunch.
VIII. Learn why No is being said and create sound logical arguments to counter.
Every now and then, your boss may be out of tune. They aren’t necessarily doing the job they are asking you to do, so it’s ok to ask them why they say no to your request. This doesn’t have to be confrontational, it can be a simple, “May I ask why you are saying no?” If you have an amazing boss, they will be able to explain to you in full detail why they are saying no, even if the simple reply is, “We are not measuring those metrics this quarter.” When that is the reply, it means, they don’t care about that information right this moment and to spend time on it would be extra work for you right now. If you feel that the information is truly still important, then explain why in full detail as it may enlighten them on something missing outside of the focused task at hand. We all get it. You want to do an amazing job, but sometimes, doing extra work is really extra work and your talent is more appreciated and utilized when you do what is necessary to advance the team. Your input is always valued, but be sure to have sound logic applied when you recommend changes and counter “No.” No is unpleasant to hear, but it doesn’t mean you aren’t valued.
VII. The world is a stage, but seriously at work, we don’t need that drama.
There’s a co-worker you don’t like. And in life, there’s always going to be someone that you don’t like, just as there is always going to be someone who doesn’t like you. *sigh* The work you do is enough. Don’t create conflict for the sake of creating conflict to cure your or someone else’s boredom. I’m guilty of the email clap back, but seriously, Stop it as work is not the internet. The more time you spend creating more work for yourself or cutting down the person you don’t like is less time you are dedicating to your own personal joy as you navigate your corporate day. Unfortunately, when you cut down your joy, it’s infectiously spreading toxicity throughout the office. If you’re not opening your mouth to respectfully better or compliment someone else, keep it closed. If you’re creating more work for yourself instead of executing the job asked of you, you’re literally diminishing your value. Like what no one else is really willing to say is that your work value is measured by POSITIVITY + COMPLETION OF TASKS + TEAMWORK = YOUR VALUE. Drama pulls from positivity, completion of tasks, and your teamwork.
VI. Treat your co-workers with respect.
Yes, there’s always that person in the office that makes you want to yell at them DMX style. It may even be the guy that has so much nervous energy that it makes you feel like you’re near a dog with rabies, but keep calm. It could be that girl that’s always correcting you on your performance as you’re doing your job. It’s nerve racking, but always respond with respect and kindness. Out of stress, we as people always do things without realizing how it’s truly impacting the other person. Always be respectful and over time, these moments will build bridges in communication that lead to understanding. Before you know it, you’ll not only understand them, you’ll come to appreciate them. The moment you stop to say something with more understanding and respect, the more you will have a pleasant experience when communicating with others.
V. Answer all calls courteously.
I think this has become a new hot button for me. If I were the CEO of your company, about 50% of people would be fired on their first day by the way they speak to people over the phone. The answer is simple. When you answer the phone on your job, you are not representing yourself, you are representing your company. When you respond to people over the phone as if they are a hindrance to your success, your time, or your being, you are telling them that your company feels that way about their customer and vendors. If you receive a sales call or customer inquiry, or whatever the person is calling for, even if it’s a wrong number and your response is to treat them as if they are calling you personally at home while you have 5 cooking pans on the fire and a crying baby, you are putting a nail in the coffin of your job. These negative experiences compound and reflect the culture of your company. If you’re so busy that a 1-2 minute phone call is disrupting your life force, don’t answer the phone. NEWSFLASH – Your salary includes answering the phone. Your salary is dependent upon your company staying in business. A series of negative phone impressions can cause you to lose business. Losing business means you are out of a job.
IV. Dress for Success.
Is there an office manual on how to dress? Follow it. If everyone not promoted is wearing ripped jeans and a t-shirt and everyone promoted wearing slacks and a button down, it could be as simple as your work style. In a perfect world, no one would care, but… we absolutely do care. It’s nothing wrong with caring or not caring about your appearance, but appearances are a funny thing. They are tied into your self esteem and when you dress a certain way, you behave a certain way. Dressing according to the policies outlined by your company aligns you with your company values and mentally prepares you for long term success within a team. It lowers a barrier of distraction so that people can focus on your message and you can focus on delivering your message. When you’re in front of a customer and you are dressed down from everyone else, more often than not, they are questioning if they can trust you as you don’t look like you really care about your job. When you’re dressed up from everyone else, it solidifies authority in some way. Either way, you don’t personally change, but peoples perceptions do. When this happens, you are able to deliver your best performance because they aren’t distracted by trivial the things that don’t matter to you (but do to them), like what you’re wearing when you’re helping them. If you’re looking to test this theory out, think about how differently you expect things from the clean cut guy Target in a tie versus the guy with dirty khaki’s and polo hanging out of his baggy pants? Only one gets politely approached when one is in need of a refund. (If you don’t have a ton of money to invest in clothing right now, fear not. Vintage is coming back with a vengeance. Keep your eye out for those jackets, they don’t make them like they used to!)
Take it without any guilt. But remember, your break time is 15 minutes. Carry your watch or your cell phone. Put on a timer. The goal is to be back at your desk at 15 minutes. Not 15 minutes I’m done with my break, I’ll go use the bathroom to fix my hair after break is over and then go talk to Polly in Accounting to see how her weekend went all within 22 minutes. Taking your break within your allotted time is self-respect as you’re performing your job within the time asked of you and you’re not eating away at other co-workers times by using your break time to stop them from working. On my break, I step outside for 15 minutes and soak up some sun and fresh air. It is my way of remembering the world continues outside and I didn’t miss too much. It’s a sneak peak that recharges me just enough to get back in the office and work until my next break. If I check Facebook, I realize that I hadn’t missed much in the past 4 hours. I WILL LIVE!
II. Do the Work.
Would you pay a plumber to lay on your couch and watch cartoons when your toilet needs snaking? Would you pay bus fare for a bus that never showed up? Would you pay at the first drive thru window to arrive at the second window to be told, “We outta what you ordered, but we’re going to keep your money”? No? Well then, the only logical thing to do is the work you’re being asked to do at your job. And the good news is, the better you do it, the more likely you’ll get to keep doing it. Like it’s strange how when you show up and do the work, how the company makes money and it keeps you in a job. But for some reason, the simple act of doing the work seems to work. And while this may be a millennial focused blog, many of the boomers fall under forgetting this simple request. It’s as if one day, they came into work and decided not to work anymore, they got away with it and continue to get away with it because of tenure. If you have a plan to one day not do the work, work 2 jobs starting at age 18. Use the second one to build your retirement and the day you don’t want to work anymore, don’t work on your own dime. There’s a lot of millennials who would love to work at a pay level that could provide them with a home, but many corporate resources are stretched thin covering the cost of those higher waged, tenured employees who don’t do the work. With that said, this is not a cheap shot at Boomers. There are both Boomers and Millennials that fall under this category. So when you start a job, if your mentor is not doing the work, distance yourself and find someone who will teach you to do the work. The work is important because it will help you in the long-term and I have this strange theory that if we ALL started doing the work, we could all work shorter days with the same pay.
I. Be on Time.
I don’t have a car. I uber and take the bus everywhere. I walk miles to be where I need to be and being on time is a struggle, I get it. However, I work really hard at it because I know that it’s not just my time that’s impacted by my ability to be at a place when asked. Do you like to repeat yourself? Or do you like to hear the same thing over and over again? Most people don’t. So how do you think it feels when your boss has to repeat what was told to the team 7 minutes before you arrived? How do you think the people on your team feel when they have to hear the same thing again because you were late to the party? Also, simple math, if you’re late to work 15 minutes every day, that’s 3,900 minutes per year, that’s 65 hours per year! That’s over 65 hours the company has lost from you alone. It’s over 65 hours because your 10 co-workers that were impacted all lost the same 65 hours each too. And all those people that were impacted listening to the same thing over and over again for 65 hours of their year, all impacted other people waiting on them as well. Things happen, I’m not saying that you can’t be successful and be late. I’m not saying that you should never ever be late and fall on a sword if you are. I’m saying that these things add up and personally, I’d rather receive a 65 hour bonus for saving my company time by being on time than losing it by having to catch someone else up on what is going on.
These are my top 10 tips for crushing it on the job. I am pretty sure if you keep a smile and these tips in mind, you’ll get that raise, get promoted, and/or become the office MVP in no time. You’ll gain more personal knowledge and satisfaction that will carry throughout your career. What are tips you have for crushing it at work? Chime in below!
Stay tuned, our next post will be on Keeping a Positive Attitude at Work.