Once you get the job you’re after, your next concern is keeping it, and at the same time, looking toward advancement in terms of salary increases, higher status, and greater responsibility.
Whether you’re a teacher, shop assistant, secretary, or nurse, you will find that job relationships tend to become quite personal and that seemingly small personality quirks may assume disproportionate importance.
One of the cardinal rules of business is to be prompt to arrive each morning. But watching the clock so that you leave exactly on the hour is a poor practice. Many businesses involve a series of commitments that must be carried out in the course of each working day.
When someone gets a late start or defaults in other ways, this means that everyone down the line is thrown off pace, either failing to meet his obligations or working doubly hard to keep the schedule from breaking down.
Getting to work early doesn’t mean dashing in without breakfast or with an incomplete make-up job. If you disappear for 10 or 15 minutes to have a cup of coffee or finish putting on your eye make-up, you’re being dishonest.
No one forced you to accept the job, the hours, and the salary (it was by mutual consent) so give fairly of your time and talent in return for the money you accept as payment.
Your employer expects you to take time out of your working day for a coffee break and a few trips to the restroom, but he doesn’t expect you to give your self a manicure on these breaks or catch up with your social letter writing.
A break should average from five to ten minutes. The employee who takes more time will be noticed with disfavor, because research has shown that she is really wasting about an hour a day of the time for which her employer is paying her to work.
Be enthusiastic in what you are doing
You can’t work well if you dislike your job, and your feelings are transmitted to those around you. Sometimes going through the motions of enjoying something eventually produces the motion of actually liking it.
You must learn to accept all respects of your job with good grace. Complaining or whining to your fellow workers destroys morale. Make your own personality adjustments to the job, or else quit.
Perhaps these are not the conditions, the place or the people, that you can effectively relate to with peace of mind. Both you and your employer will be better off if you resign before the situation reaches undesirable proportions.
Here are 15 tips on office manners that will help you to keep your job:
- Stay on a last-name basis unless you are told first names are preferred.
- Be polite; say “please,” “thank you.”
- Don’t smoke, if that’s one of your job regulations.
- If smoking is permitted, keep your ash-tray clean.
- If coffee or a snack is permitted at your desk, don’t let the dirty coffee cup or crumbs remain on your desk.
- Be considerate of those who work around you. Work quietly, don’t slam drawers, don’t even talk in a normal tone if others are trying to concentrate.
- Never ask other employees how much money they are making.
- Learn the “chain-of-command” and don’t go over anyone’s head.
- If you’ve made a mistake, admit it. Try not to do it again, and don’t make excuses or blame someone else for it.
- Don’t talk about your employer’s business, engage in office politics, or gossip. It’s the quickest way to a transfer down the ladder, or out on to the street.
- Make an effort to get along with everyone, from the boss to the cleaner.
- Don’t get too emotionally involved with your occupation.
- Better to be a lender than a borrower, especially one who forgets the change for coffee or who is always out of cigarettes.
- An office party can be disastrous. Remember that after it’s over you have to go back to work with all those people, so save your uninhibited fun for your private social life.
- Observe all the written and unwritten rules and regulations of each job. Don’t compare them to conditions on a previous job. If conditions elsewhere seem preferable, perhaps you should consider changing jobs. But take a good look before you leap. Meanwhile, accept the situation you’re in and don’t grumble or moan. Life will be that much more pleasant for you and those around you.
Don’t ask for a rise if you think you can be replaced fairly easily, and possibly with someone who will work for less pay. If you ask for extra salary, be ready to justify why you believe you are worth more money. You may be doing additional work or you may feel that your work load and responsibilities entitle you to a pay increase.
If your reason is purely personal, you want a new car, have moved into a more expensive flat, or have had an illness in the family, don’t tell it to your employer. These things are no concern of his and he probably would not feel any obligation to help you finance them.
Be prepared to quit if you really believe you are entitled to a rise and you are not given one or encouraged to expect one. But don’t back yourself into a corner by threatening to leave if a rise is denied, especially if you need the job and its salary.
Even though it gets results, such a threat is ill-advised, because your employer will dislike being pressured into increasing your salary. You may get your rise, but the boss may be looking for your replacement.
If you feel that your earning power and opportunity would be greater by changing jobs, be diplomatic in telling your employer so. Explain that you have enjoyed working with him, but that you do need more money, and give him notice.
This gives him an opportunity to hire and begin training your replacement, and affords you time to find other employment. It is more sensible to find a new job while you are currently employed.
When you do leave, leave pleasantly
Your next employer will probably inquire into your background, but in any event your behavior should be that of a responsible, mature adult.
Most women who enter the business or professional world do so to earn a livelihood or to contribute to the family income. But more and more women are embarking on a career for the pleasure and satisfaction it brings. But, whatever the reason, for most working women the financial compensation is important.
Along with ability and self-confidence, you must have the knack of keeping your personal and professional life separate if you are concerned with monetary rewards of your vocation as well as the priceless feeling of accomplishment that comes with knowing you’re successful and respected in your career.
Women in business today are probably most criticized for being too personal in their work. An adult and professional attitude requires that you leave your personal sensitivities at home. When your employer criticizes your work, it is rarely a personal attack; it is your professional performance that concerns him.
Today’s career woman must be able to assume responsibility, make decisions, abide by others’ decisions, accept frustration and criticism along with praise.
You are exchanging your professional skills, talents, and time for a mutually agreed-upon salary and your employer expects you to keep your half of the agreement as much as you expect him to keep his.
An employer seldom objects if you ring a dentist for an appointment, but when you regularly use your employer’s telephone and time to talk to your friends or to take care of other personal matters he has a right to call a halt.
The telephone is one of the most important means of communication in business; for some types of business it is literally a lifeline. One of the pet peeves of many businessmen is that employees clog up this lifeline by placing or receiving personal calls at work.
Not only do the employers object to their telephone lines being tied up but they resent the intrusion of your personal affairs into their business, a distraction to you and to others, since you seldom have complete privacy during a telephone conversation.
Your personal or domestic affairs are similarly out-of-place as topics of conversation during working hours. Under ordinary circumstances, no one at work should know that you had an argument with your boyfriend or husband.
Not that your private life must be a closed book to your coworkers, but there are some pages you can skip. Again, it’s unfortunate that your car broke down, but don’t go into exhaustive detail describing the incident to each of your fellow workers.
Physical and emotional problems are part of everyone’s lot
Social unrest, loneliness, disrupted personal lives and plans, and economic difficulties are problems each of us must face and to which, individually, we must make socially acceptable adjustments.
The close working conditions of small offices make it difficult to keep your personal problems completely out of the office. If you are to be successful in your career, you must learn to confine your comments on personal problems to close personal associates.
You can’t do your best work if you’re not feeling well, but your hour-by-hour case history progress bulletins may put everyone else in the office on the sick list. If you’re ill go home or to a doctor.
Don’t let friends or family visit you at your place of employment. You may have someone stop by to pick you up for lunch, but not ten minutes early to chat with you until it’s time to leave for your lunch break.
Whether you have a drink or not is your concern. But when you do on a working day and it interferes with your efficiency it becomes your employer’s concern.