So you’ve gone to university and got your qualification, what now?
Unfortunately an expensive University Qualification does little to train you in the real world skills that you will need in the workplace. There are a few important differences between University and the workplace. If you are not aware of these you could make some “Career Limiting Moves”. And seeing as we spend so much time at work, workplace dissatisfaction can easily lead to life unhappiness. It’s not that work is any better or worse than University. It’s just that it’s a very different environment. Different environments require different approaches for success.
The differences I’m going to talk about in this article are: Expectations and boss relationships.
Expectations and boss relationships:
In university there is a clear standard that determines a pass or fail. The syllabus is clearly defined and your results are expressed in percentage points. You may build a relationship with your professor but your work will stand on it’s own merits and the delivery method is clear.
In the workplace you will have a job description and possibly some numeric targets in your deliverables. But measuring your success and progress is a less exact science. Your boss, who is only human, will evaluate your success. Therefore your bosses perceptions, preferences and prejudices will affect evaluation.
It can be incredibly frustrating to work hard, feel that you are making good progress but then have an unfair performance evaluation. Right or wrong this is the way it is and you can forget about getting a re-mark! In work it’s not only important to do good work but it’s also important to be doing the right work, in the right way. Doing good work that goes unnoticed makes you a good person but it’s not very effective for two reasons:
- The selfish reason of getting the credit you deserve and
- To keep your boss (and organization) informed and aligned.
Therefore it is also important to keep your boss apprised of your achievements in a way that works for her. This isn’t about brown-nosing or showing off. Do it the correct way and it’s about communication. And remember that your boss needs to know what you are doing because she needs to communicate to her boss about what is happening in her department.
To do this my recommendation is:
1. Do the right thing:
But to do this you need to make sure you know what your boss wants. Yes you can argue that it’s your boss’s responsibility to communicate this to you. But the reality is that not many bosses are as good as they should be at communicating this. And trying to blame your boss’s poor communication skills for your performance isn’t very effective. Trust me, I’ve been there before. And I know a lot of other people who have had exactly the same problem.
2. Provide value:
In university the requirement is to have enough correct theoretical answers. The university is paid the same whether you pass or fail. But a business can only afford to pay your salary if you provide more value than you cost. And after covering cost of goods, overheads, profits etc. the typical business needs to make at least 4-5 times the cost of your salary to justify keeping you. Being valuable to a business is the way to be treated like a valuable resource. If you’re an overhead, you may be a casualty in the next round of cost cuts. And there is always going to be a next round of cost cuts.
3. Be seen to be providing value:
There are a few ways to do this but for now I’m going to talk about differences between people. What is important to you may be less important to your boss and vice-versa. Similarly you probably have a preference for email, text message, phone call, face-to-face communications etc. And your boss also has a preference, which, statistically is probably different to your preference. Getting your message across requires both the correct medium and message.
Like it or not, your boss and your relationship with your boss will determine your workplace happiness and success. Because most managers don’t get good training in how to be a good boss, you cannot rely on your boss. To take control of your career, make yourself valuable and be perceptive to your boss’s preferences.
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SPECIAL MENTION ABOUT ONE-ON-ONE MEETINGS
Do you know that regular, high quality one-on-ones with your boss are your single most important work meeting. When you do them right they create a forum for you to:
- Get to know to know your boss and build a better relationship with them,
- Keep your boss in the loop with status updates,
- Be kept in the loop by your boss,
- Share your problems with your boss to get help and guidance,
- Set priorities for the week ahead.
- Focus on career growth and take on new responsibilities.
But just like everything, there's a right way and a wrong way to have one-on-ones. That's why I developed a free mini-course to show you what you should be doing in your one-on-ones with your boss: One-on-Ones for Employees (Includes a one-on-one agenda for you to download)
More info: The advice in this article is derived from the training course Manage Your Boss: BOSS101. The purpose of this course is to help you to manage your most important work relationship in order to get you raises, promotions and bonuses plus a happier working relationship.
Making the step up to boss? Find out how in WWW.BOSS.CAMP. The program includes topics such as:
- How to motivate employees,
- What are bad employee motivators,
- What you must do as a manager but isn't on your job description,
- How leaders get power.