Work mis­takes to avoid in 2017

The of­fice – if you’re even in an of­fice – can be a con­fus­ing place th­ese days. A few life lessons here.

Glamour (South Africa) - - Work / Lessons learnt -

you’ve prob­a­bly heard th­ese work­place adages: don’t leave be­fore your boss or curse at the of­fice, and def­i­nitely don’t get drunk at the party. We’re not say­ing those rules don’t ap­ply any­more – let’s be real, it’s never ad­vis­able to down mul­ti­ple cock­tails in the same room as the per­son who de­ter­mines your salary – but things have changed. You’re more likely to hear peo­ple drop an F-bomb at work (re­search shows it can ac­tu­ally bring em­ploy­ees closer), and a younger work­force is blur­ring hi­er­ar­chi­cal lines. So how should you be­have now? Heed this ad­vice!

Don’t wait to pro­duce great work

Stuck at a job you don’t love? Been there. Young peo­ple now are more likely to be un­der­em­ployed than past gen­er­a­tions. But it’s a big mis­take to act like you’re above the me­nial tasks you’re given, says Deb­o­rah Rivera, founder of a search and con­sult­ing firm. “I’ve seen em­ploy­ees who think, ‘When I start my real job, I’ll do well.’ But no one will rec­om­mend you if you don’t take your cur­rent one se­ri­ously. Find value in ev­ery task – and do it bet­ter than ev­ery­one else.”

Don’t talk badly on the record

“A client asked me to rec­om­mend an ad agency,” says Jackie, a com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor. “I reached out to a great agency and wrote about my client’s ex­ist­ing cam­paign, ‘My client needs you; you’ve prob­a­bly seen their hideous ads around the city.’ When the agency said yes and I for­warded their con­tact info to the client, that lit­tle tid­bit was for­warded as well! The client called my boss to com­plain. Thank­fully,

my boss was un­der­stand­ing – and he re­minded me to be care­ful. But I learnt a valu­able les­son. Nowa­days, ev­ery­one does work on their phone, where it can be hard to see an en­tire email thread. Not sure? Then don’t for­ward. Start a new chain.

Don’t hook up at work

Dat­ing a co-worker? To­tally hap­pens. But be warned: “Be­cause the work en­vi­ron­ment is less for­mal and folks work weird hours, there are in­creas­ing re­ports about peo­ple ac­tu­ally hav­ing sex at work,” says Roy Co­hen, ca­reer coun­sel­lor and au­thor of The Wall Street Pro­fes­sional’s Sur­vival Guide (FT Press; R289, ebook). “When you’re work­ing, you’re be­ing paid to work.” Plus: Hello, bound­aries!

Don’t ig­nore the peck­ing or­der

“I was work­ing at a huge me­dia group, and I had an op­por­tu­nity to move to a de­part­ment where I knew I’d be hap­pier,” says Nora, an ed­i­tor. “I had no idea where to start, so I took sev­eral meet­ings be­hind my boss’ back to try to make it hap­pen. Of course, she found out and was up­set. Things worked out in the end – I now split my time be­tween the two de­part­ments. Peo­ple my age are look­ing for pro­fes­sional growth and pur­pose, but you must be up front, how­ever awk­ward it may be.”

Don’t pre­tend to be some­one you’re not

“Soon af­ter I started my first job, my boss in­vited me for lunch,” says Lau­ren, a mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor. “I knew he was a his­tory buff, so when he asked about my in­ter­ests, I blurted out, ‘I love his­tory!’ When he asked about my favourite books, it be­came clear that I knew noth­ing about the topic. It’s easy to stalk your boss on so­cial me­dia to find out their in­ter­ests, but now I know: if I want to make a real con­nec­tion, it’s best to be my­self.”

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