When it comes to navigating the workplace, there’s not a rulebook handed out on the do’s and don’ts of prospering in your career. Most people figure it out through trial and error, which if you don’t have a good mentor seems daunting. Do not fear! Making some mistakes is actually part of the process. So whether you are entry-level or mid-level, here are 10 workplace tips for millennials, or anyone really, that can help smooth the way for success in your corporate office.
1. Be Respectful of Your Boss’s Time
Sure your boss is there to offer guidance and mentor you but be aware that their plate is also full and often with projects that you are not aware of. Before approaching your boss with impromptu questions take 10-15 minutes to research the problem at hand. Then follow office etiquette. In general, it’s usually best to make a list of topics you would like to cover and wait until your next scheduled conversation. If a little more urgent, consult their calendar or send an IM asking when they have time. When you discuss the problem, offer options. Show that you have at least made progress towards a solution. You can say, “this is what I have uncovered and this is what I think we can do.” Not only will it show that you are proactive but your boss will be more likely to respond faster to future questions knowing that you already problem solve and prioritize time.
2. Know That Promotions are Earned, Not Given
Almost everyone I know who has gotten promoted has said, “I was doing the job already“.
3. Be Prepared for Opportunity
A new opportunity could be a promotion. It could also be a lateral move to a different role that you enjoy more or are better at. Regardless, new opportunities happen through a combination of preparation and communication. Be prepared and on the lookout for something new. Don’t be shy about vocalizing your willingness to take on new tasks.
4. Stay Away From the Nay-Sayers
Every office has them; the disgruntled employees who like to complain about how the business is run or how they’ve gotten passed up for a promotion by someone newer than them. In business, your attitude determines your altitude, so check negative attitudes at the door.
5. Be Careful About With Whom You Share Personal Information
Beware of and use your best judgment towards those who are over-inquisitive. Some co-workers may just be curious and want to get to know you, but follow your instincts on what you will and will not discuss about your personal life in the workplace. To maintain your own integrity, you may need to have rehearsed answers or even be able to say, “I appreciate your intrigue but I don’t feel comfortable talking about that at work.” If a co-worker’s curiosity doesn’t fit within the scope of your relationship or seem well meaning, it probably is not.
6. Don’t Agree With Everything
Maintain and contribute your own opinion. That’s where you can add value.
6. Keep Learning
Even if you are in an entry-level position, doing a job that is completely different from what you really want to do, there’s always something to gain on the pathway of your career. I once heard a top level recruiter define a 5-step path to becoming an Executive at an organization:
Step 1: Learn the job, learn the dynamics of being in the office and corporate structure.
Step 2: Understand the business; gain a wider understanding of the vertical/clients and competitors within.
Step 3: Practice management skills; begin to lead and mentor people on the tasks that you have mastered and be responsible for internal reporting of them.
Step 4: Innovate; come up with proactive solutions to drive further business goals.
Step 5: Sales, be able to sell your idea to stakeholders and decision makers internally and externally. No matter what order these skills come in if you’re learning one of them you are on your path to a healthy career.
7. Collaborate And Work Across Teams
All great work is accomplished by teams. Communicate, collaborate, and you’ll be successful. Withdraw into yourself and try to go it alone, and you probably won’t be.
8. Stay Inspired
Take the time to periodically attend seminars or industry conferences. Take advantage of learning opportunities at work or meetups pertaining to your space. The knowledge you gain can expand your horizons and help you think outside the box.
9. Always Be Thinking About How You Add Value
Every day, ask yourself “What did I do to generate more value than I was paid today?” That key measure will help ensure that you do more of the things that add value to your business and less of those things that don’t.
10. Break The Rules Every Once In A While
And don’t be afraid to make mistakes. We all make them. Those who acknowledge them and describe the lessons learned usually gain the respect of co-workers. Just don’t make the same ones twice!
If you are more of an entrepreneurial spirit and find that you are not cut out for the corporate office, these rules still apply. Even Picasso knew that one must, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”
*Article co-written by Kristin and Stephen Fitzgerald. Have questions or anything to add? Leave your comments below.