Twenty somethings and thirty somethings, welcome to the world of work! Let me correct some misconceptions you might have about work before they have any negative consequences for your career and your selling.
You are there to work.
Some offices look more like an entertainment playground than they do a place that’s designed for people to conduct business and work. You walk in and there’s the magnificent cappuccino and espresso machine. Go a little farther and there are ping pong tables, video games, bean bag chairs, an exercise room for yoga classes and the designer kitchen for the guest chef to prepare those special group meals. You might miss the beer spigot on the keg in the corner, but it’s there.
You are forgiven if you enter this type of environment and think that you are supposed to play. You are there to work. Let me share a dark secret with you. All the trappings of fun are there to keep you at work so you do more work. Why go home when you have all these toys to play with? Then you might do a little more work after you play.
What’s unfortunate is when some new hire thinks the fun comes first before work. You had better not be the one at the ping pong table when your sales numbers are off. Kudos to you if you have the time, after meeting your goals, to clear your mind and play a few games of pinball.
Don’t ever be the one playing when you’re not on track to meet your goals. You are setting a bad example for others and you call attention to yourself. Managers won’t tolerate your behavior and you will soon be looking for another job. That new job might not have so many distractions. Your job is to manage your time and that includes the distractions. Accomplishing your work is your objective.
You aren’t perfect. Accept criticism graciously.
I know many twenty somethings think they can run the company tomorrow. All those trophies for showing up might have gotten to their head. Just understand that even though you have accomplished something, when you do, that your manager might think there is a better way to do things. He might share that information with you and have a conversation about performance improvement. You might interpret that as criticism. Don’t.
Your manager has the right and the responsibility to ensure that you are following company procedures and that he is developing you, his human capital. Managers can even tell you how to do a task. That’s part of their job description. It’s called job training where you instruct subordinates on what to do and how to do it. You may find a better way to do it. I would discuss this with your manager before you make changes. What I wouldn’t do is get insulted, start to sulk or demonstrate other negative behavior if I were instructed to change what I was doing.
When you think all comments are criticism you stop listening to others. The only way you will improve is if you do listen to others who provide better solutions to what you can do.
Money isn’t everything, but you do have to pay your bills.
I’ve seen too many young professionals chase jobs just because of the salary. Yes, a good salary is important. You do have to pay your bills. You can also consider what you really need for a satisfying life. Going into debt to buy everything you want is a recipe for disaster. Accepting a low paying job with no future advancement because you really like it is a dead end. You can simplify your life and cut back financially, but if the job doesn’t pay your bills you are in the wrong job.
Make your job selection with one eye on the bottom line and the other on your lifestyle. Free time from flexible hours is worth something. A group of peers who are industry leaders because of their talent and skills is a place where you can learn and grow. Yes, try to be compensated for all of your talent and skill. Just be sure you are not picking the job only because of the salary.
The world of work has different requirements from student life or living at home. For some of you this may be the first time you aren’t making all the decisions. For others, it’s the first time you are totally responsible for your performance. Either way, it’s about time you realize that life has responsibilities and you’re ready to accept them.