Eti­quette Work­place made easy

CityPress - - Careers - SIYABONGA SIT­HOLE siyabonga.sit­hole@city­press.co.za ou’ve nailed that in­ter­view and you’re on your way to fi­nan­cial in­de­pen­dence. But your first year in the of­fice is still for­eign ter­ri­tory. So there’s plenty to be said for a lit­tle friendly ad­vice and s

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: projects@city­press.co.za or SMS us on 34263, us­ing the key­words FIRST JOB.

SMSes cost R1.50

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