Updated 2/15/2021. Originally Published 8/21/2015.
TIMELINESS MATTERS! PEOPLE ARE KEEPING TRACK
Some workplaces require tools that record your time. Whether you are a non-exempt employee, salaried staff member, virtual worker, or small business owner, be aware that others are watching. They take note of what time you are online and how long your online status indicates you were offline. They watch how long you are away for personal errands, working out at the gym during working hours, etc. more importantly, they are sharing this information informally. Sooner or later, your manager will be made aware, whether directly or indirectly.
If needed, track your working hours, accomplishments, and issues – confidentially and consistently.
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU SAY, DO AND POST
Yes, you are an adult worker. Yes, you are entitled to your “off-time”. Yes, adults are entitled to do whatever activities are desired during non-working hours. Consider this. You are probably working at your current job for a particularly good reason. Maybe you and your family like to eat daily. Maybe the child you encouraged to attain good grades is graduating and the first college tuition bill is due in 3 months.
Whatever the reason, you need your job. Do not jeopardize the job you need by shining a public spotlight on the activity you did last weekend. Someone is tracking, watching.
If you are not sure if you should post it, ask yourself, “Would I want my (mother/father/minister, etc.) to review this?” If you hesitated to answer for even one second – do not post. Your next job interview may depend on it.
YOU MAY BE THE LAST TO KNOW YOU HAVE A PROBLEM
Do you know those slight hairs on the back of your neck that raise occasionally? Or the sixth sense that you have that something is not right? You go through your work life, spending significantly more time with your colleagues or virtual workers than your own family. A few days are great with many other workdays being challenging.
Then it is that time of the year again. Performance review or your one-on-one with your immediate manager. HR representatives state that your review should never be a surprise, but you were surprised at the feedback that you received.
In fact, the feedback caught you off guard. You were surprised, dismayed, shocked, etc.
What can you do?
One choice is to officially “agree” with the feedback, then work months with a silent issue festering. An issue that could have been addressed had someone brought it to your attention earlier, allowing time for addressing the issue. Alternatively, take the knowledge and plan for the next meeting. Take the existing feedback received, and document how you are addressing it. Anticipate any additional issues or talking points that could arise. Be prepared, plan your possible reactions, and how you plan to respond to an unexpected “performance opportunity”. Remember that you and your actions in the workplace are being watched. Take that knowledge and address it proactively.
DON’T CLICK THE SEND BUTTON IMMEDIATELY
Email. You love it or you hate it. You use it or try to ignore it as long as possible. Whatever your position, if you use it during the workplace, please consider these learning email etiquette. Or take a few precautions, at a minimum.
- Never use “reply all” to a workplace email.
- If you are upset or angry while typing the email, please save it as a draft. Come back to it after 4 hours or more.
- Complete the TO, or CC sections last. If you hit send, it will not be sent without the completed address. This will give you a moment to pause and reconsider.
- Short and sweet is your mantra.
YOUR MANAGER CANNOT BE YOUR FRIEND
Your manager may or may not have hired you. Maybe they inherited you, yet going forward the new manager has the responsibility to evaluate you, promote, or demote you, determine the percentage of your next raise, or fire you. If your work product is great, they will take the credit for it – and hopefully, share the credit with you. If there is a problem with your work or its result, they may not support you. Friends are not required to make these decisions.
Help your manager keep track of your accomplishments by creating a periodic (preferably weekly) communication, via email or a concise dashboard accessible as needed. Write the accomplishments in such a way that your manager can quickly forward them to their direct manager (your bosses’ boss) for review. The manager needs to shine – help them “take credit’ in a way that gives you positive visibility and credit also.
Own it! The extra 30 minutes every week to create the weekly communication or dashboard is key value that you bring.
IF AND WHEN YOU LEAVE – YOU WILL BE BLAMED!
We have all heard it. A former colleague who left the organization for bigger and better roles is now being blamed for the project that failed or the equipment that no longer work. The resulting chatter is out of your control. However, take note – and thank goodness you created that status report/dashboard of accomplishments every week..
PERCEPTIONS MATTER – DESPITE WHAT YOU HEAR
Perception: a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression. On a daily basis, with every interaction in the workplace, someone is forming a perception of you and your abilities to complete assignments. Just doing the job may not be enough. How you do the job and the methods you use may impact the perception as well.
Create and articulate the perception that you want others to have. Set the tone. Control the message.
PROPER DRESS IS IMPORTANT
If your workplace requires uniforms, this may not be a high focus area. As long as your uniform is neat, pressed, and worn correctly, you are probably meeting the mark. If your workplace does not require official uniforms, please know that there still is a workplace standard. Look around you. What is the average colleague wearing? How are they wearing it?
Example: jeans are not equal. The styles include pressed, others have holes, most are faded or black stained, and many are “skinny jeans”.
Suggestion: If no one is wearing shorts on casual Friday – please don’t start a new trend. If customer meetings are always every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, respect the customer and dress appropriately to represent your organization and your role.
If your manager meets with his/her manager every Monday, ensure you have dressed appropriately, in case you are asked to accompany your manager to explain the details of a project you are responsible for.
A consulting colleague of mine keeps a suit jacket, fresh lightweight sweater, and change of professional shoes in the car to enhance any existing workplace outfit, should the need arise. She is always prepared for an opportunity.
- Measure of AccomplishmentsSuccess is not measured by our outward appearance.
- Be About the DeterminationDetermination. Courage. Get It Done.
- Command AttentionBe Uncommon.
HOW YOU SAY IT IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHAT YOU SAY
You are in the weekly team meeting. Earlier you stated your fantastic idea and no one acknowledged your contribution. Moments later, another colleague restated your exact idea in their own words and now people are excited and agreeing. What just happened? This is not the first time either. You are frustrated. Fair or not, consider “how” you stated your fantastic idea, and consider the various you observed.
Compare the reactions of each individual in both scenarios. What was the difference? Consider the terminology, tone, examples used, body language, etc.
Ask a trusted colleague or mentor for suggestions. You are a valued team member who deserves to be heard. Seriously.
CHARACTER COUNTS AND YOUR WORD IS YOUR CURRENCY
Consistency is a key component in the workplace. Your team members want to know that they can count on you to pull your share of the workload. Your manager has an expectation of your performance to complete the tasks and projects within your responsibility. Being dependable in your working habits, communication and behavior will set the tone for how you are viewed by your peers and your manager.
State what you will do and do it.
- If you cannot complete the task, state it and why.
- Ask for assistance when needed.
The reputation that you build within your present position will be your currency in the next.
Finally – Please UNDERSTAND THE VALUE OF CYA
If you are not familiar with the term CYA, research it.
Then take the necessary action.