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.
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.”