When younger people graduate from college or university, their next step is usually to find a job. The transition from one environment to the other can be quite a culture shock for newly qualified graduates. Entering the world of work with unrealistic workplace expectations can harm your future career prospects. If you want to make sure that this isn’t the case for you, check out our top tips to be a grown-up at work and earn the respect of managers.
Why the Culture Shock?
The college environment is nurturing, and students are encouraged to develop new ideas and speak freely about them. Unfortunately, the opposite is true in most workplaces. Here, managers prefer employees to get on with their jobs as efficiently as possible without making waves.
When scrolling through the job boards, you stumble across what you think is the perfect job advert. It seems to offer career progression within a forward-thinking company. However, when you get there, your ideas fall dead in the water. Where did you go wrong?
As contradictory as it may sound, if you want to get ahead in your career, you need to learn how to toe the line. Managers will respect your opinion more once you have earned their trust. How can you do that? Check out our top tips below.
6 Top Tips for How to Be a Grown-Up at Work
1 – Clarify your Responsibility
If you want to earn your manager’s respect, you need to do your job and be consistent. You must be clear on your assignments and how they fit into your manager’s agenda.
Find out what you need to learn and in what timescale the company expects you to know it. Once you have this information, you can quickly formulate a plan to get up to speed. Doing so will demonstrate that you are a fast learner and boost your credibility more than you realise.
Even if you have been at your current job for a while, it is wise to clarify your role and general responsibilities regularly. While this may seem unnecessary, employees may join and leave your team, or your organisation’s goals and objectives may change. Changes like this can blur the boundaries of individual job roles, so it’s essential to always be clear on your manager’s expectations.
2 – Adapt
When you first walk into a new job with a fresh pair of eyes, sometimes a company’s way can seem a little outdated. However, the procedures your company requires you to follow were likely implemented for a reason. It’s also highly likely that reason is, in some way, linked to profitability.
So while you may think that there is a better way to do things, sometimes it’s better to observe quietly from a distance. Once you fully understand the situation, gather facts and put together a carefully considered case for making changes. Doing things this way can make you appear more grown-up at work and help you earn the respect of managers.
3 – Communicate Effectively
Part of behaving like a grown-up at work is finding out the best way to communicate with your manager. Ask your boss how they prefer to communicate. Do they like to email, or do they prefer a phone call? Is texting acceptable under any circumstances? How about face-to-face communication?
You must also find out how often they expect to hear from you. Depending on the nature of your job, your manager may expect a once-weekly catch-up or an immediate response whenever they email you.
You may do an excellent job, but it pays to be adaptable when communicating. When your manager expects a phone call, texting can make you appear immature and untrustworthy.
You may be used to a different way of working or prefer to do things differently, but being adaptable will help you gain your managers’ trust. Once you settle into your role and prove your ability to do your job, it will be much easier to help your boss understand your perspective and reach a compromise if you can communicate with them effectively.
4 – Observe
If you want to earn the respect of your boss, then you have to learn what is important to them. Pay attention to the priorities they have and what pleases them. Empathise, and show that you are trustworthy.
Aim to deepen your understanding of the organisation’s priorities, workplace politics, culture and constraints. Your job is not to play into politics, but understanding them will help you stay on the right side of office etiquette.
5 – Build Relationships
Earning the respect of your boss starts with earning the respect of your colleagues. Your boss is continually making assessments through direct observations. They will also be asking other people for feedback regarding how you fit in with the team.
Asking questions like “how can I help” will work wonders for your career. It helps you forge relationships with others, and it also enables you to find out what works and what doesn’t.
6 – Disagree Sometimes
Believe it or not, avoiding conflict is not the best way for you to gain respect from your boss. Your manager has to know when you are looking out for them and when you have their back, but at the same time, they also need to know when things are taking a turn.
For example, if you know that your team cannot hit a project deadline, you should be upfront about this. Ideally, you should have conversations like this privately and courteously.
As the person doing the job, you may have different information from your manager and often a different perspective. Therefore, when there are difficult conversations to be had, arming yourself with facts and figures to back up what you say will make you appear more grown-up.
A Few Final Thoughts on Being Grown Up at Work and Earning Managers’ Respect
Doing well in your job doesn’t only mean giving your best effort but also showing respect to those around you. You may need to change your working style to fit the needs of the company you are working with and your manager.
Showing dedication and adaptability should earn you a place in your manager’s good books while also solidifying your position within the company for years to come.
Getting your first job after college can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be, and if you take the right steps in advance, you’ll soon find that it is easier for you to make good decisions on the spot.
If you’re ready to prove yourself in the world of work, why not take a look at our current IT, Digital and Marketing jobs?