12 tips on how to behave in the workplace
If you’re a new starter, expect a steep learning curve. Your attitude is your best asset. Think of the workplace as a collection of people you want to impress, especially your boss.
There are all sorts of workplaces – no single workplace is the same. An office is different from a factory, and a cafe is different from a building site.
Be your best self
Bring to work the best version of yourself, not the grumpy, caffeine-starved person who didn’t get enough sleep. Take care of your health, because you’re getting paid to work and your boss expects results and output. “From offices to restaurants, learning to navigate any new job requires a unique mixture of people skills and dedication,” says WikiHow.
Learn to do your job well
Aim to listen, learn and then be self-sufficient. To do your job effectively, you can’t be constantly asking others for help. Invest in what you’re doing – take pride in your work (even if it’s menial, or you’re really there for the wage,) and stay focused.
After your first training as a new starter, aim to boost your skills and regularly learn new things. Strive to be a valued employee. Be the worker who willingly shares knowledge for the good of the organisation.
Focus on the customer’s needs first
All organisations have a customer, whether it’s the public (like people ordering a coffee, or on the other end of a phone line), another business (that pays your company to do a task or produce something), or an internal client (like a manager or business unit). The customer’s needs come first, and they are the reason you have a job.
Be reliable, so people can depend on you
Always arrive at work on time. If you’re a new starter, aim to get there 10 to 15 minutes earlier to prepare. If you work shifts in a customer service industry, you’ll need to be ready to hit the ground running.
It helps to understand your role in the organisation – you’re part of a bigger system. When you’re given a task, do it to the best of your ability, on time as requested. If you’re struggling, ask for help or warn your boss that you’ll need extra time.
Be positive and respectful
Show that you’re willing to work and keen to do well, but also be realistic and don’t over-promise to make a good impression. Remember tip number 4, to be reliable; others are depending on you.
Being positive is also about being optimistic – seeing your tasks and your workplace in an upbeat way, rather than checking the clock and thinking about leaving.
Actively listen and show you understand
When your colleagues or supervisors are explaining a task or speaking about the business, show that you’re listening by looking at them, nodding or taking notes. Ask for clarification if you don’t understand, or repeat back the task to show you’ve understood.
Take ownership of your mistakes
Everybody makes mistakes, so when you do, own up and learn from it. It’s better to be truthful rather than hide the evidence or hope that no one will notice. WikiHow says, “Make it your goal to only make a mistake once. If your boss tells you how to do something, listen and remember so you won’t have to ask again.”
Be proactive – go ‘above and beyond’
This means thinking ahead – seeing ‘the big picture’ and anticipating what needs to happen next. This may take time – even if you have top-notch skills and talent, to do a task you’ll need to learn your organisation’s processes.
However, be aware of what’s appropriate in your new workplace. Some jobs will need you to watch and learn. You can look for an opening to show you’re keen. In other roles, you might need to ask permission before you help out.
Always clean up after yourself at work. Look for ways you can help organise or make it safe. WikiHow advises, “If you work in a kitchen or a restaurant, keep an eye out for obstacles that someone may trip over, or help clean up dishes.”
Be a trusted team player
A team player is someone who thinks of the overall task or outcome rather than just their piece of work or job. For example, a team player in a café setting is someone who makes sure customers have what they need, who helps out so that things run efficiently. Being a team player means doing your job well so that others don’t have to help you or do extra work. It also means helping to create a clean, safe and productive workplace.
Every employer wants a ‘team player’ – someone who chips in and gets along with colleagues. This also means speaking well of your co-workers, and not being part of a snarky clique.
Be well organised, plan your time and use it well
If possible, plan for things to run smoothly. Take notes or keep a list nearby. “It’s a good idea to prepare by writing down both practical and general questions about how you can be most successful in the role,” says the World Economic Forum.
“Discuss issues that arise openly, and don’t wait until the last minute to let a co-worker know information if it is urgent,” says Chron magazine. Be prepared and deliver what’s expected of you, whether that be customer orders, a piece of work or attending a meeting.
Communicate clearly, politely and concisely
Focus on doing your job, not talking or wasting time. If you need to discuss things, keep it brief and to the point. Always be polite to your co-workers and especially your boss.
This article is a good summary of what NOT to do. Don’t spend work time playing with your phone, having personal conversations or gossiping. “Business etiquette is about making others comfortable to be around you,” says Diane Gottsman. Part of getting along with others is communicating well and showing that you take your job seriously.
Resolve disputes or problems early
You won’t like everybody in your workplace, and that’s OK. If you’re having problems with a colleague, talk to someone you trust or your boss. Try to sort out the problem before it gets bigger.
If you’re feeling upset or angry, keep your composure and remember that you can’t control your environment, but you can control how you react. Keep in mind that bullying or harassment are against the law. If you feel that a dispute or a problem is preventing you from doing your work, or if you feel unsafe or discriminated against, bring your concern to your HR representative or your team leader.
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