I have been working for over 14 years now. In that time I have had various roles, managed large and small teams, dealt with high profiled clients, won awards and worked for some of the most famous brands in the world. It is fair to say I have learnt a lot, and most importantly I have learnt from the best.
A lot of twenty-something individuals comes fresh out of university thinking they know it all, jump feet first into their new job, and then have a big cultural shock when they join the corporate world. I know because I was one of them. Here are my top tips I wished I had known in my twenties that I now know in my thirties.
Image is Important
This is hard one to grasp. You should not get too caught up in worrying about how you look but you should give it some thought. How do you want to be viewed? Does the way you dress reflect that? Some offices have relaxed dress code, that’s OK, but still take pride in the way you present yourself. It will make people believe that you take pride in your work too. If you come into an office with creased clothes and looking sloppy, what image does that give off? If you work with clients this is even more important.
“Does the way you dress reflect the way you want to be viewed?”
You will Always be Learning
Never ever forget that you are never too young or too old to learn something new. Never get to arrogant to think the opposite.
Know How to Ask for a Pay Rise
This is OK to ask for, its business after all. Just make sure you are able to demonstrate why you deserve it, present your key points clearly and chose your timing. Do not ask for a pay rise when the quarter’s targets have not been met!
Never Moan About Co-Workers
This is never acceptable. Moaning or being negative about anyone in the workplace makes you look unprofessional.
People Help People they Like
This is really important. You do not have to be BFF’s with everyone in the office but you do have to be respectful to people. I have seen so many of my old colleagues speak nicely to their managers but do reciprocate the same courtesy to their peers. This is a fundamental error you will regret if you behave like this. You spend a lot of of your day at the office, its easier just to get along.
You never know when you might need someone’s help. You never know if you peers will get promoted above you. Do not think they will forget the way you treated them as a peer when they are higher up the ranks.
It’s Not About Working the Hardest
You do have to work hard to succeed but it’s about so much more than that. Make sure you learn about all areas of the business. It will help deepen your knowledge and could help you approach projects form a different perspective. This will impress your line managers as you are demonstrating you have a strategic understanding and are not just task focused.
Also, do not brag about how much extra work you do in after work hours. Being a manager myself and in various roles, it just highlights to me you struggle to manage your time during the working week.
Do Not be a Yes-Man
A CEO of a famous global brand taught me this while I was working on a project with him. He was new to the company at the time and I had been working with the brand for over 5 years. When I was speaking to him about his new role he gave me this advice:
“When you are at the top, it’s difficult to find people who will be honest with you and tell you when you are wrong; I do not need to be surrounded by yes-men”
This was such valuable advice as it taught me not take action on tasks I think will damage the company just because my manager said so. If you have valid reason why something will be damaging to the project, explain it politely to you manager. You are a team therefore you all need to look out for the company. If they disagree with you that is fine. At least they know you will always be honest with them.
Network, Network, Network
This will never go out of fashion. It’s not solely about who you know but it could help swing a decision in your favour one day.
Collaboration is Always Better
Accept help on projects. Two heads are always better than one. A better product or service is always produced when it has different perspectives on it.
Accepting Help is Not a Weakness
I get so bored of seeing colleagues moaning about how stressed they are but yet do not accept help when offered. It comes across as attention seeking. When someone offers help do not view it as a personal attack on your ability. It is OK to say yes to help. You are no use to your company if you are producing poor work due to having ‘too much on your plate’.
Do not Mistake Activity for Productivity
We have all heard the saying “Quality Vs Quantity”. This is what I mean by this. It is pointless if you are working hard and producing a mountain of work that fails to have results or impact the business.
Communication is Key
Share you understanding of things with others. It may help others understand why processes are in place or projects better. You may know something about a project that you think is common sense but it does not mean others on the project have thought about it. My mother always taught me never to assume!
Never Forget about your Internal Customers
An internal customer is anyone internally that is directly impacted by the work you produce. Treat them as a customer always and never forget it. If you live by this motto your colleagues will always trust you. You never know they might be able to help you with a favour later on.
How You Treat People Says it All
Always treat people fairly and with respect. It’s a long climb to the top. The people you pass on the way up, you might have to pass on the way back down. Never get too big for your boots.