I have been a corporate slave since I graduated from college three years ago (even before I graduated) and to date, I have already been employed under four different multinational companies that have little to do with my college degree.
My first job was during college, working for a call center as a customer service representative. Next, I was with a direct-selling cosmetics business, where I was a sales trainer for a few months. After that I entered an FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) corporation, where I handled marketing and promotions for one of the company's brands.
I am currently employed with an oil company under operations. I have basically undergone training for companies carrying very different brands, with very different working conditions, business arrangements and departments. The information is sometimes a little bit overwhelming, but it’s nothing compared to what you have to learn on a personal level to survive the corporate world.
Working for these “very different companies” brought to my attention that in spite of the diversity, these experiences all had one thing in common: corporate politics. Sadly, sometimes, no matter how well you do your job or how much time and effort you put into it, things don’t always work out the way you want them to.
You aren’t always in line for that promotion or that big bonus, and it’s even more difficult if you’re just in it for the money because people you work with can have the potential to drive you insane. Even when you’re minding your own business, over-excited vultures can mistake you for competition and bring you into situations that you never wanted to be a part of in the first place.
So, here are some tips for surviving the corporate world. These may not include absolutely everything you need to know, but I promise you, they’ll come in handy for dealing with promotion-obsessed colleagues and rumor-mongering managers.
Stay away from gossip.
Although gossip can keep your work environment lively, it can also be the downfall of your entire career. The thing is, gossip has nothing to do with your work. Especially if you're new, it can be hard to decide which person to trust with your frustrations about coworkers or your job responsibilities.
You never know which person really cares and who is whispering in the ears of others when you’re gone. Regardless, it’s better to just stay away from it altogether. You can hang out and laugh with them, but don’t join in on the coworker bashing. You never know when someone could turn on you.
Keep a work-life balance.
It sounds impossible sometimes, right? But this is really important. If you want to stay sane on top of all the reports you have to file, data you have to generate, systems you have to master and people you have to work with, finding time for yourself can seem like an unattainable dream.
It’s important that you find something to take your mind off work sometimes, whether it’s just a 15-minute cigarette break between meetings or a two-hour coffee date with friends after work. Find something else in your life besides work and home because that routine will get old quick.
Do not complain.
I don’t mean that you keep your mouth shut even when you know that you’re being abused. In that case, you are most welcome to speak up.
Otherwise, pay your dues. Finish your reports instead of Alt + Tab-bing between Microsoft Excel and your Facebook. Work hard and don’t cry about every single thing your boss asks you to do because you’re being paid to get the job done.
Bosses (and people in general) don’t really like to hear whiny complaints, especially when they seem petty and immature. You might have the IQ to get the job done, but if your EQ (emotional intelligence) isn’t up to the challenge, you’re providing a clear reason to be let go.
Observe the tasks, people and the overall environment and adjust to the kind of conditions you know exist in your office. Learn everything you can as you go along; this will ultimately help you if you have a career plan in mind.
Don’t step on any toes.
There will always be one or two people in the work place who will do everything in their power to get promoted, or worse, take over your job. I don’t know how those people go to sleep at night after a day of backstabbing and making up stories.
Don’t stoop to their level. Just get your job done and focus on doing it right.
If you participate in all the treachery, you might get your promotion earlier than you ever dreamed, but this comes with too much risk, like bad karma or not being able to sleep well because of all the lies you had to tell to get to there. Lying to get a job is likely to backfire one day.
Maintain the boundaries between personal and professional relationships.
Yes, it’s more than possible to find lifelong friends in the work place, and sometimes the people you work with can make your day more interesting. But don’t drag your professional frustrations into your personal relationships and vice versa. Crossing the line has potential disaster written all over it.
Leave your ego at home.
It’s okay to be good at what you do. In fact, it’s a great thing to be smart enough to excel at your job. But don’t go boasting about it. Let the work you have done do the boasting for you.
Never make anyone feel bad for not picking things up or getting things done as efficiently as you do. Being brilliant never gave anyone the right to treat other people as if they were stupid, or to announce failures for the whole compound to hear.
That’s really all there is to it.
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