A while back, one of my readers asked for a follow up from the piece titled, “How to be successful in an interview”. She had just gotten a new job, which happened to be her first office gig and wanted to have an idea on what to expect. I’d recommend reading the piece above before your next interview. It has gotten some great reviews from the insights shared, to prepare readers better for a successful interview and a call back with an offer letter.
My first office gig was about four years ago, when I transformed from consulting to permanent employment, at a real estate company. Being very young and new to the experience, I admit at being very naïve on what to expect and how to adapt to and fit in with my second family. Because if you think about it, you will spend a big part of your week with your colleagues at work. Average working hours being nine hours of your day. Two hours on daily commute from point A to B, five to seven hours of sleep (if lucky). If we are to choose the latter, that would only leave you with six hours to yourself or to spend with friends and family on a weekday.
Having worked with three companies to date, there are a few patterns present in the workplace, that I thought would be ideal to share with my young readers looking to join a new company or even move to a new job. Disclaimer, the points were developed through my personal experience. I also compared notes with that of people that had over fifteen years of experience in the workplace. And just between me and you, I wish to ha\\]]ve read this piece before my first day in the corporate world. This piece is probably one of the most important ones to read and internalize.
- The Pareto Principle
Or popularly known as, 80 20 rule. Named after its founder, the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, back in 1895. He noticed that people in society seemed to divide naturally into what he called the “vital few,” or the top twenty percent in terms of money and influence. And the “trivial many,” or the bottom eighty percent. Vilfredo argued that eighty percent of the wealth in Italy, was owned by twenty percent of the population. Now many years after, the 80 20 principle can be applied in most if not all fields.
In business, eighty percent of your sales will come from twenty percent of your clients. In a company, twenty percent of the workforce will deliver eighty percent of the growth for the business. Word of advice, you want to be in the twenty percent bracket. Because unless you have a thriving side hustle to support your livelihood or a mammoth of savings stacked away, you will probably go broke in the incidence of mass layoffs. Which happens to now be the norm in many companies.
- No one Knows everything, No one knows nothing
Everyone in the office acts like they know all the right answer. Key word being ‘acts’
Do not be intimidated by the people that sit typing away on their computer during office meetings. They might have just unlocked a new high score on candy crush! Again, being naïve, I thought to be the only one that was sometimes clueless about what was being discussed in the meeting. I was just happy to be part of something serious. (lol) On countless occasions, when passing behind colleagues sat with their computer screen on, I caught a glimpse of online games, shopping/ to-do list, clearing trash on email or reading and responding to Facebook chats.
So, don’t feel the pressure to emulate people in the office. Best skill you can develop is to learn to ask the right questions, especially during the first meetings you will attend. Carry a notebook and pen and listen to points being discussed. Write down any questions you may have and wait to the end of the meeting, when the host asks whether there are any questions, to voice them out. If extensive explaining is needed, ask to have a one on one.
Bottom line is, you got a call back after the interview because you have value to add to the company. Do not doubt your place in the office.
- Avoid Out of work social events with Colleagues
If you are lucky enough to work in a company that has a good work-life balance, there will be outings where drinking and socializing ensues. And while these are meant to help build office chemistry, do not get carried away and over share about your crazy college escapades. One thing I wish someone told me earlier on in my career, the office is not the place to make a best friend. Your cardinal significance at work is to make or save money for the company.
Know when to leave the office party. Never get drunk while at one.
- Align Your Interests with Your Boss’ Interest
Rule number one in the book titled, ’48 Laws of Power’ is Never outshine the master.“Always make those above you feel comfortably superior. In your desire to please and impress them, do not go too far in displaying your talents or you might accomplish the opposite – inspire fear and insecurity. Make your masters appear more brilliant than they are, and you will attain the heights of power.”
Sounds manipulative? Perhaps. But I prefer to phrase it as ‘strategic positioning’. Your boss earned their seat at the throne either by merit or knowing the right people. Either way, they retain power. The kind you will need to move up the in the company, get a raise, have your bonus approved and shortlist you as one of the valuable employees to keep when downsizing. So yes, you have great ideas relevant to the company, but ensure they contribute to the boss’ direction of leadership. This way, you have the master working for you or with you…not against you.
- Dress the Part
Some people want the position of CEO but dress like the janitor. Don’t get me wrong, a janitor is still a respectable job.
Image is everything. How you dress and carry yourself will greatly influence how far up the ladder you go. As a lady, stay away from sexy dressing. Avoid showing too much LCC. (leg curves cleavage) Your male colleagues will see you as less of a boss and more of a snack. You do not want that. As a gentleman, stay away from shabby, oversized suits. Invest in well-fitting official wear that you can rotate through the week .Dusty or muddy shoes are a huge no. Gives the impression you can’t afford to be employed in that office. Find a shoe mit you can hide in the office. Come in earlier and clean up before your workmates don’t see how far and wide you traveled to get to work.
I cannot stress enough on how important your image is. Guard it with your life.
6. Don’t Mix Work and Play
When it’s time to work, work. When it’s time to play, play. Avoid mixing the two. I remember wondering why everyone seemed to take work so seriously. Probably because I still lived in my dad’s house. My only responsibility was to buy the latest shoe design on payday. Sometimes I got three pairs of the same design, in different colors! I now cringe just thinking about how much money I spent every month on shoe shopping. Because of this, I handled work very casually.
But work is very important. Here’s why; you are trading a piece of your life for the work you do. You are giving some of your best years to your current job. So, pull your weight at the office and develop the reputation of being unfailing. Don’t play at work.
Play is important too. It is the time you spend out of work with family and friends. Which you will come to realize, is vital for your wellbeing. Use this time to rejuvenate your mind, body and soul. Let your loved ones know they are important to you by allowing them your undivided attention while in their company.
- Your Money Is Not Really Your Money
If like me, you decide to go on absurd shopping sprees, you are only working to enrich the store owner while slackening your chance of ever being financially independent/ rich.
As an employee, you will never see a part of your hard earned dough because it will be automatically deducted as tax. Like most average people, the remainder will go to expenses and zero left to a capital fund. A smarter formula to divide your monthly income right from the first paycheck, after tax would be:
- Ten percent to go to tithe/ philanthropy – Luke 12:48 it says, “To whomever much is given, much is expected in return.” If you are not the religious type, use the tithing money to make the world a better place. Jesus! We all want a better tomorrow but no one is willing to help build towards it! We are the ones to invest in a brighter tomorrow.
- At least thirteen percent to go towards a capital fund/ savings plan/ retirement fund. Could be a Sacco, government bonds or assets that appreciate in value.
- Twenty percent to go into emergency/maintenance account. Ever heard the saying when life gives you lemons…make sure you have an emergency account to fall back on? Probably not, because I just made up the second half part of the saying. If there is one thing that is certain about life, it is that it will not always play out as expected. When the hard times come, and they will, you want to have an emergency fund to cushion the setback before you pull yourself together.
- With forty three percent gone, you can spend the rest on upkeep and daily expenses. That can be school, rent, family upkeep, food, travel… However you choose to allocate these funds, train yourself to live within your means and avoid unnecessary debts.
Poor people spend their salary on expenses first and invest with what is left…if any. Rich people do the opposite. Choose where you would rather fall, and follow the right formula.
- Pay Attention to what you Post on your Social Media Handles
Treat social media as your personal press conference. As a media to attract like minded people through your posts and updates. Employers now look up potential candidates online to get a view of your online presence. A careless post or comment could be reason you miss out on a great opportunity to progress your career.
- Learn to Say No
Being the newbie in the office, some colleagues may try to take advantage. Tasking you with assignments far from your job description. I like to call this, being busy doing nothing.
Understand the difference between important and urgent. Important tasks have a consequence if not done within reasonable time frame. If you put these off long enough, they will eventually turn into urgent matters. Make a to-do list in the beginning of each day prioritizing the tasks you were not able to complete the previous day, to beat any deadlines attached to them.
Don’t let your mouth overload your back.
- All Work is Good
The ‘thank God is Friday’ song is common. Maybe too common. You may not enjoy your current work, but do not look down on your current job. Because without it, you would not be able to support your livelihood. Stop complaining on why your job is not ideal. Instead, give it your best and work to build a business you are passionate about, after work and on the weekends. If you are a waiter at a low-end restaurant, be the best waiter you can possibly be while working towards growing your career. Keep challenging yourself to be better each day while being grateful for having a job.
Thank you for reading this far, I sincerely hope that this was insightful and practical to empower you. If you have points that you feel should have made the list, pop them down below on the comment section and keep the conversation going.
As always, don’t forget to share with that one person you know needs to see this.