So you just got your first job and you’re ecstatic yeah? Congratulations. I’m happy for you; really. Maybe you’ve heard that the corporate world is a dog eat dog environment; well, sometimes. You’ve also heard about workplace politics? Yeah, it exists. Though there are laid down rules for workplace behaviour, it is usually the unwritten rules that end up costing you a promotion or earning you a reputation you do not want to have. So, here’s my rough checklist of things you should pay attention to as an ‘otondo’ (Novice) in the workplace.
If it’s your first day, sleep early. Imagine waking up with a hangover and having quarter-to-four eyes during induction. God forbid a bad thing.
Visit the office before the D-day and time yourself. How long did it take you to get there? Add at least one hour to that time; just in case a container falls on the way or it rains or… You don’t want to arrive late and when asked why? give the very stupid excuse that there was traffic. You’re a new staff on PROBATION. Remember that.
Even if you leave by 4 am in the morning, eat well. By the time the Admin Manager is done introducing you to 30 people and taking you through the company’s code of conduct, you’ll remember breakfast on your first day at work as the 2nd best decision you made in your life.
I’m hoping that by now you would’ve researched the company, what it does, who is who and what they stand for before showing up crisp and clueless on your first day. You get my drift right? No? Ok, I meant, visit the company website and understand their business. It’ the least you can do.
I know you admire Mark Zuckerberg but please don’t show up in flip-flops or jeans or t-shirts- you don’t own the company. Girlfriend, I know you’re all for creativity and expressing your true self, but it’s a workplace. Fuchsia is your favourite colour? I understand, but not on your hair! All 5 fingernails have different colours; no one is going to take you seriously. Keep all the glittery and shimmering stuff for the company Christmas party ok? And your cleavage, g-string and thighs stay covered. Got that?
Ask questions, it’s allowed. You are new. It’s better than feeling like superman and bungling an assignment because you are too proud to ask.
Note things down, who works in what department, names, titles; people like to think they’re memorable enough for you to remember so indulge them.
Leave it alone, it’s not yours: Ask for things that don’t belong to you before using them. If it’s not yours leave it alone. Respect private property. And yes, it includes Pens too.
You leave the office with a leftover plate of Ewedu by your table, pieces of confidential info and files lying haphazardly. How are you ever going to think straight with all that clutter? Discard stuff you don’t need and make sure to arrange your table at the end of work each day.
You don’t want to start your career talking about who wore what or who is likely sleeping with who …You’ll get into trouble faster than you lace your shoe. To keep you in check, just know 10 other people are queuing up to take your job if you mess up.
Use your eyes and ears and do very little talking. Understand your environment first, before you begin to proffer solutions to everyone’s problems. You stay out of trouble and look smart that way.
Ask your direct Supervisor how he/she likes things done. Emails or phone calls? Daily or weekly reports? It helps reduce the friction that may arise if you do not understand his/her work style.
Try and contain yourself until you understand how the system works. No cracking jokes and slapping people on the back like you finished primary school together. Keep your voice even; it’s not a motor park.
Understand the fact that your learning and development is your sole responsibility. If you do not learn a thing after one year of working in an organisation, please don’t whine that no one sent you for training. Those who will excel in today’s workplace make things happen for themselves and take responsibility for their own growth and advancement.
And whatever you are asked to do, do with a smile; it may be a test; don’t pucker your nose and look like you’ve just been slapped by the cleaner.