For most joining the competitive world of the corporate sector, the transition is more than a mere switch to the professional world right out of some form of tutelage. It is a change of lifestyle, moving on from the carefree days of university into the tough and tedious constricts of a job. And this transition demands particular attention to your conduct from the very beginnings (Read First days at work – How to make an impression?).
Think of the corporate community as a beauty pageant where your every move, and your attitude, is going to get a microscopic view by your manager and your colleagues. And this is on top of all the talent that you will need to survive the testy world of your job. Think of it as a competition to not just win the crown and bouquet but all the other titles that come with the pageant – best hair, best clothes, best smile, and of course Ms or Mr congeniality!
Here are some tips to hold your hand through your journey in the corporate sector. Clue in quickly for a smooth sail in your career. After all, your behaviour and your boss’ perception of you will play a role in it!
How to appear professional at work?
Let’s begin with the obvious. You absolutely need to be punctual. Better still, early. Unfortunately, tardiness is quite often associated with irresponsibility, even though you may not be the one causing a road jam on the streets of Bangalore, everyday.
Solution? Just start early and with enough time to squeeze in a few snags on the way.
Many workplaces are quite happy to see your polka dot Hawaiian shirt. Whereas, the predominant mix of corporate offices, out there, observe a dress code – usually no shorts, no really short skirts, no jeans, no loud shirts, and the highly inappropriately called, the aesthetically massively unappealing wife-beaters, a man’s sleeve-less shirt for those who are wondering…
Keep a smile and pleasing persona about you. You know, friendly but not too friendly to share ghastly crude jokes over the lunch hour. An approachable demeanour is a likable quality in a co-worker. Especially in a corporate culture where team efforts are usually the norm.
So, make your fraandships, but guard yourself with a safety boundary – maintaining a cordial relationship with everyone while avoiding too much familiarity and college humour.
He/She may not be wearing a cape for easy recognition. So, spend your time to observe your ideal match for a mentor at your workplace and follow by example to begin with.
A newbie’s corporate experience can be daunting, at first. So, it helps to know who to refer to when in doubt. Of course, when it comes to asking questions, however trivial they may sound, don’t be afraid to ask. Just choose your audience a bit carefully.
A sure-fire way to get embroiled in controversies is to engage in gossip and rumour about someone, or something, at work. First of all, it is deplorable to entertain masala over facts.
And worse, if you manage to offend someone along the way, it will be a very hard road to trace back and repent.
Don’t be afraid to step up for a task. Accept a few weekends and late-night sacrifices for the greater good. Also step out of a deeply rigid work style and be open-minded enough for flexibility.
Perhaps volunteer for something new and challenging. Who doesn’t love a hero after all?
Maybe it is not the bestest of ideas to start your corporate career with requests for extended or unplanned holidays. Be judicious of the timing. If you are yet to establish your reputation as a conscientious worker, it is best not to ask for vacation time in the middle of a deadline rush, or a big project.
Don’t assume that big holidays will be sure getaway time for you. When in corporate, business runs 24/7 and that often means co-workers having to chalk out their holiday time schedules. So, if you have to trade in Diwali for Holi, settle for that arrangement instead of assuming you will get time to fire the crackers and mess with colours, both.
Corporate careers are usually blessed with dough, often lots and lots of it. And when you’re new to the culture, you may get a bit swayed by the sudden downfall.
Here’s the truth. No matter how spendy you feel, pragmatism dictates that you keep some stashed away. Refrain from extravagant expenditures in a retail spree. Treat yourself to a nice dinner and save the bling for later.
You see, with all the glory and monies that come with a corporate job, stability and security are unfortunately not part of the package. Be wise and stay grounded. Start thinking about wise investments, retirement plans. Plan early and save often.
It is hard to forget where you are when your emotions are running high. If you are in an infuriating phone call with your pal who just let out the ending to Infinity War, you might want to take it outside. Employees often tend to forget that they essentially sit in cubes of cards.
Each “wall” is literally cardboard thin and your neighbours are an earshot distance away. If you want to stick to proper corporate behaviour, keep your voice low or take your personal conversations outside. And please no incense sticks or food makers on your desk. Keep it simple and relevant.
Corporates, much like any other culture, tend to have their fair share of experienced and senior characters who demand respect for their command. But being respectful should not be mistaken for being a sycophant or for that matter a push-over.
It is generally a good idea to stay diplomatic and respectful of others, no matter what their stature is. However, if you feel yourself being cornered into doing things for them for no credit, or being abused by their power, use diplomacy and the right channels to extract yourself from the spot.
Being part of a corporate organization also means that you wholeheartedly understand the foundations, the principles, the culture, and the motivation behind the establishment. Know your company is the motto for you. Keep track of the happenings in and out of office and stay abreast of the latest developments in your company.
As common as they are, these behaviour ideas are often forgotten in the rush to corporate stardom or in some cases, demise.
The best way to deal with a corporate organization, and find your way to a successful career, is to put in your honest effort, stay out of politics, stick to your principles, yearn to learn every day, manage your time, and take care of your health and happiness. After all, at the end of the day, you are working for you!
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