Etiquette Workplace made easy
THAT’S A NO-NO Nobody wants to end up like Ricky Gervais’ character in TV’s The Office, so getting your behaviour right in the workplace is very important
YBe polite and respectful
This is where author and former columnist Shelagh Foster comes in. She has compiled a survival guide to help novices navigate the ins, outs and politics of the workplace.
Called Your First Year of Work: A Survival Guide, the handbook gives useful tips on how to, well, survive in the workplace.
Foster wrote the book after seeing how difficult the transition to the working world was for many school, college and university leavers. And those who still didn’t have jobs found it hard even to get a foot in the door because they had made simple mistakes putting together their CVs or introductory letters.
The book is written in the form of lists and easy “how to” sections – like the A to J of dressing for success. Here’s a hint: C is for cleavage – and it’s a no-no.
Apart from touching on what many may think of as obvious (see cleavage above) the book also touches on subjects like your work ethic and how to get ahead in your first job, how to regulate your personal life at work, and what organisational culture is.
“Understandably, your first job is not your ideal job. But there are many lessons you can learn while trying to get your ideal job,” says Foster.
Below is an example of just some of the advice the book offers. The author tackles seven essential practices in the workplace.
Here are five of them:
While life experience dictates that respect needs to be earned, the workplace operates differently, says Foster. It is not an ideal world. It’s a tough place with its own rules, and your task is to learn them to get ahead. This means adapting your attitude to your new reality.
If you want to survive, become skilled and be a high earner some day, you must understand that everyone has something to teach you and every encounter can be used as a means of improving yourself. Another way to get ahead at work is to have an unquenchable curiosity and a zest for knowledge. As a newbie, you need to familiarise yourself with what your company does, who does what, and what the expectations of you are. Also, where you fit in as an employee.
The only way to know is to ask questions, do some research on the company website, and be seen to want to know.
Managing time well
It goes without saying that time management is one of the most important aspects for a working person. You need to make sure you arrive at work on time and don’t fall into the trap of blaming lateness on a flat tyre or traffic delays. Being on time means you respect yourself, your colleagues and your job.
Communicate any delays with your supervisors. When it comes to being productive, you need to prioritise your tasks and minimise your time chatting on the phone and on social media. While chatting to your new mates is fun, you will find the greatest reward is knowing you’re earning your salary and getting noticed for all the right reasons.
Getting to know the organisational culture
This is a formalised combination of the shared values, beliefs and behaviour of a business and its members, commonly referred to “the way we do things”. These offer employees and stakeholders a feel for the business and its environment.
It helps unite employees through collective behaviour and offers uniformity, consistency, reliability and integrity to a business and its clients. Reading the organisation’s manuals and other documents, and searching the company’s websites are just a few ways you can familiarise yourself with how your new organisation does things.
Taking responsibility and fixing mistakes
It’s your first year of work and you are bound to make mistakes. It’s all part of the journey and it’s a learning curve. None of us learns from being perfect; we learn from making mistakes.
The trick is to own up to your mistakes. Trying to cover them up sends one simple message: this person can’t be trusted. Swallow your pride, tell the truth and fix things if you can.
We have five copies of Your First Year of Work to give away. Tell us about your first job or a faux pas you made: email@example.com or SMS us on 34263, using the keywords FIRST JOB.
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