You may be working for a small to medium company or large corporation, there are some tips every employee needs to know. Many of us see, know, hear or gossip about them, but not everyone digests them. Knowing about the undocumented part of organizational culture is important to avoid any surprises and frustration later.
1. Why you never get promoted or miss bonus ?
Do you think the other person in your department always gets the best and you have hardly seen him working? Is it just that he praises the manager or is good in cracking humor and socializing? Or you are relatively less vocal but focus on your work and someone else takes the credit? Or do you think the other person’s dad plays golf with the boss and his friends? Or is it that they both worked in same companies sometime in the past? Or is it that they have a drink together in the weekend? I know there are so many questions in your mind but I am not going into an ethics debate of right or wrong. My only ask — can you change all this,even if some of it is true? If you think you can, you don’t understand the “system” — the world you live in.
If you know your subject well, you can work anywhere and everywhere without hesitation, with confidence without using the so called and misinterpreted "socializing traits". No need to be a parasite to rise up the ladder. Parasites have short lives.
2. Most Favored Status
In the political world, have you heard of MFN status ? Most Favored Nations — a status countries give to some partner countries they prefer trading. Have you seen doctors recommending medicines of specific brand or teachers recommending books of specific authors or you mother loving your sibling more than you ? We all are social beings with feelings and have favorites. I like blue and you like red and she likes pink and we will continue buying things of the color we like — I cannot say all colors are equal! You got my point. There are favorites — after all we are human beings. Don’t you have many friends but some are your favorites ? Don’t you love to work with all team members but some are your favorite ones ? Managers and bosses do have their favorites and I think it is a psychological fact rather than a question of corporate ethics
If you are confident in what you are doing, feel a sense of achievement, have clear goals, you should be happy. Don’t make enemies by saying “I am frank and straightforward and I don’t care what others think and will stick to the facts and what is right..”. Observe and understand the party you are dealing with. Remember, when it comes to work, favorites are often the best ones and not necessarily close friends.
3. Do you have a Godfather/Godmother
If there is someone in the senior management who appreciates your work, knows you and will stand by you, it is a blessing. I have seen many people who have some affinity with someone up there, get an edge on the opportunity. Have a mentor or request one of your seniors that you want to grow by learning some of tips from their experience.
There is nothing wrong in genuinely praising your boss for something good, nobody forgets nice words spoken and they go long way in building relationship.
4. Too much Trust can be dangerous
The textbooks on HR and corporate management and many theories in management books will talk about trust. Over the years of service, my personal take is, in professional life start with a zero trust unless you really make good friends in office. Assume that what you are sharing will be shared with anyone when time comes. People are very practical and will do anything to gain an edge. Especially if you are new to the corporate world and came out of college — spend time in observing people around and listening to what they talk and what they mean.
5. Come out of the safe zone
You may be one of those who is satisfied working in the same position and doing the routine work which you have mastered over decades, and do not want to take any more responsibility and pain. But have you thought of emergency situations like the Covid-19 or situations where there can be major health issue in family or any accidents? As they say in Gym, stretch yourself at least little more than you can, it will keep you ready for adverse times.
Speak out what you want and ask for it. Provide facts and examples. If you are not being heard even after going to next levels, don't close your eyes and let yourself be exploited.
6. Timings matter especially the last quarter
Try to remember what you did in last one year and you will either remember tough and unforgettable moments or most recent experiences. We all have short memory and tend to remember the most recent. If the manager has to review performance of 20 people and on an average spends 5 minutes due to busy schedule the most recent ones immediately comes to mind. So be careful in the last quarter and keep documenting your achievements throughout the year in any format you prefer.
7. What is in it for me
I remember my dad called me when he read the news that the company I used to work for made supercomputer which defeated world chess champion. He was elated and congratulated me. I simply smiled and said thanks but then thought will it help in anyway in my career. It was a proud moment for me. However, take a practical advise from me here — “Be safely Selfish”. If the incidents do not have anything in store for you, focus on your goals rather than boasting of achievements around the company. If you are excited and it is possible, try to be part of such teams or network with them and learn from it.
8. Your Corporate Happiness Index (CHI)
I don’t know if there is a formal similar term but it just came to my mind. Our moods fluctuate depending upon the issues in the work, in family and how we are treated by our peers, bosses, friends and family. In your work, keep a tap of how happy you are in the organization at that role and try to collect facts every quarter or half yearly. Have key data points and judge yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 and if you consistently feel you are below 5 you need to consult your mentor or someone you trust. Working with a mind full of frustration and not being happy is harmful for both yourself and your organization. You need to fix it or move on!
9. Be yourself and believe in yourself
People from different cultures and different backgrounds and qualifications work in organizations. Some may be very good in dealing with people, some good in communication while some may be great techies. Having a role model is not a bad idea but do not loose your identity. People appreciate you, like you, because of your identity and uniqueness. Work on your strengths and weaknesses without ‘loosing yourself’. The confidence in you comes when you are yourself. Wearing the shoes which fit you is better than wearing top brand which is too tight or too lose for you. You can walk confidently in what fits you well.
Note: Please note that these are my own personal views and not necessarily reflect any comment on any of the companies I have worked for.