You’ve finally stepped out of the classroom and into the 9 to 5 life. WHOO! YAY! CONGRATS! You’ve landed a position that you actually like, with people you can actually deal with. You’re earning those good grown woman/man checks while doing a bomb job in your position. It’s all so peachy keen and your professional life is so perfect.
That is until you come to face to face with the age old struggle that is… office politics. People in the professional world are going to try you.
Working in an office is a great experience, especially when you’re at entry level. You come to learn about yourself as a professional along with some harsh facts of life. One of those being that @@not everyone is going to appreciate you and the work that you do.@@ You could be the absolute best employee that your company has seen in years, and someone will still have the desire to drag you down. However, even if you find yourself in such situations, @@you have to know how to cover your behind yet remain a positive force in your workplace.@@
Let’s take a look at this list of ways to win in the office:
Keep Your E-mail Etiquette Cute
Before I started working full-time, I don’t think I’ve ever sent so many e-mails in one day. E-mail is the number one form of communication in the office. Therefore, you have to become a master at it. My mentor brought up to me the idea of being “nice-nasty”. In e-mail, folks may try to get a little sassy in their message to you. It’s important to correct them and show them you aren’t one to be pushed around… in a nice way. But in doing this, ALWAYS (and this is a major key) make sure that your direct manager is copied to the message. It is important that your manager is in the know of just about everything you communicate about. Especially when it involves individuals from other departments. And of course, keep your receipts! It is important to have your e-mail history available to you just in case someone attempts to make an untrue claim. If you have their actual response in writing… you win!
Don't forget to thank them at the end of your e-mails as well :)
Don't Let Them See You Sweat
If you're in the middle of a situation that is causing you stress (i.e. pressure from an assignment or a colleague "doing too much"), take a moment and walk away. If that means going into the bathroom stall to let out a cry or getting some fresh air, do what you need to do. Just try your best not to let others know your shortcomings. Most times... they simply won't care.
Stay AWAY From the Tea
I know this is a hard one to resist but if you can help yourself, stay far away from any of the office gossip. Yes, your coworkers may seem to be awesome people, but let’s keep it real… you don’t really know them! The moment you engage in the latest story about Linda who was put on probation for xyz, is the moment you can create the path to your own downfall. The last thing you want is for your name to get mixed up in any negative stories. Just keep your lips zipped and put your headphones in. Drink some water and mind your business!
Also, do not share your own tea! Use your discernment if you feel the need, but do not share your business with your colleagues. That’s what friends are for.
Never Get Too Comfortable
You’ve been at your job for over 6 months now. Everyone likes you and things are going well. Yassss, two snaps for you! BUT… don’t celebrate too fast. One thing you should never allow yourself to do is become complacent in your position. Whether you believe it or not, someone is always watching you. If you’re excellent at your job, don’t give people a reason to say you’re dropping the ball. I know it'll be tempting to sneak out 30 minutes early or take a two hour lunch. But if you know what's good for you, you won't be sneaky. Stay on top of your deadlines, keep organized, and always extend a helping hand to your team. Be the one who everyone can count on. Continue to have that same hunger you had when you started. It’ll get you to further much sooner than you expect.
Kill Them With Kindness
In every office there is going to be someone who you will not get along with. Unfortunately, it’s not a perfect world. As much as you may become irritated by their presence, make sure that you are always courteous. It may suck, but speak when you pass your colleagues. A nice “hello, how are you?” can carry some weight. They need help with something that you know how to do? Give them an assist anyway. Yeah, you may feel they don’t deserve it, but it’s really not about them. Now I’m not saying to be super-fake about things, but in the office you must be the bigger person. Your professional reputation is on the line. Show them what excellence truly is.
Get To Know Your Boss
Your most important ally in the professional world (especially at entry level) is your management team. No one will have your back like they do… if they’re a good team. Sadly, not everyone is blessed with great managers. But if you do, make sure to interact with them as often as you can. Get to know them and allow them to get to know you. If you have a solid professional bond with your management, they’ll be sure to take care of you in the midst of office drama.
These are but a few things that I have learned in my six-months of working full-time. I’m sure there will be more to discover.
If you have any tips of your own, feel free to share!