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.
Suggestion: If needed, track your working hours – 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 stupid things during non-working hours. But please consider this. You are probably working at your current job for a very good reason. Maybe you and your family like to eat on a daily basis. Maybe the child you encouraged to attain good grades is actually graduating and the first college tuition bill is due in 3 months. Whatever the reason, you need your job. Don’t jeopardize the job you need by shining a public spotlight on the stupid thing you did last weekend. Someone is tracking, watching.
Suggestion: 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 – don’t post. Your next job interview may depend on it.
YOU MAY BE THE LAST TO KNOW YOU HAVE A PROBLEM
You know those slight hairs on the back of your neck that raise up occasionally? Or the sixth sense that you have that something isn’t right? You go through your work life, spending more time with your colleagues or virtual workers than your own family. Some days are great and some are challenging. Then it is time for your evaluation or your one-on-one with your manager. HR representatives state that your review should never be a surprise. But you were surprised when you had yours. You received feedback during your review that caught you off guard. You were surprised, dismayed, shocked, etc. Yes, you may work months with a silent issue festering that you are totally unaware of and that you could have addressed had someone brought it to your attention. It happens.
Suggestion: Be prepared, plan your possible reactions and how you plan to respond to an unexpected “performance opportunity”. Again, you are being watched. Knowledge is power.
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. But they will definitely have 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. Your boss is.
Suggestion: 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 it the accomplishments in such a way that your manager can quickly forward to their direct manager (your bosses’s boss) for review. After all, they need 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 gold.
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 things is now being blamed for the project that failed or the equipment that no longer works.
Suggestion: Out of your control. Just 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.
Suggestion: Create and articulate the perception that you want others to have. Set the tone. Control the message.
APPROPRIATE DRESS ACTUALLY 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. Some are pressed, some have holes, some are faded, some are black stained, and some 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.
Pro Tip: A consulting colleague of mine keeps a suit jacket, fresh lightweight sweater and change of professional shoes in the car – just in case – to enhance any existing workplace outfit. Always prepared for an opportunity.
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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.
Suggestion: 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.
Suggestion: 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 don’t know what CYA means – Google it.
Then take the necessary action.
Michel Hobson is one of the most sought-after workplace training leaders in the region. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans multiple countries and hundreds of companies. | HobsonTraining.com