Manners Monday: the modern career woman

Hi all! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.
Unfortunately, the weekend ended too soon for me and now it's Monday. Yuck. Back to life, and back to the reality of heading back to work. For all of you who may be sharing a manic Monday with me, I hope you enjoy my career inspired post.

For us women, times AND expectations have changed for us job-wise. In the early days, it was much easier for children to live off their parent's dime then it is today. Gals could breeze through college and if they weren't married, they could move away to 'find themselves' without the expectation of them getting a job. Today, things are way different. College is spendy. So is life after college. Sure, there are a few trust fund babies who can bat an eyelash and daddy will buy them a Bentley and cover their bills, but for most of us...this doesn't happen.  That being said, entering the workforce can be tricky and us ladies may encounter several unexpected roadblocks. Below I have listed a few tricks and tips and tricks that have always worked for me. Enjoy!

Number 1:  Be on timeThis shouldn't be too hard, right? Wrong.  For some folks, getting to work on time after a morning of juggling children, commuting, or even primping yourself for the day can be a total chore. The truth is, not everyone is a morning person. Even if we aren't we should try are hardest to fake it for our employer's sake.  Getting to work on time shows that you are reliable, and reliability is very important in the eyes of our employer's.  Even if your manager is totally lax in regards to punctuality, you may still run the risk of losing a promotion to another team member due to this.

Number 2:  Choose your attire wisely.  'First impressions are everything', 'Dress for success', 'Dress for the job you want, not the job you have'.  I bet you have heard these phrases more than once, right?  I can't stress these 3 statements enough.  I feel it's very important to be conscious of what you wear to work. 
Some jobs out there are filled to the brim with singles who have just graduated college.  The girls who take these jobs want to look cute and sometimes looking cutes enables them to become lax about dress codes and modesty.  Yes, these girls will probably snag some attention from their male counterparts but may snag some negative attention as well.  Employers notice what we wear way more than we actually realize. 

A simple shift dress, skirt (knee length preferably) and cute top, or slacks and a blouse can do wonders for your professional image.  Some may think that work clothes are boring and ugly.  If you are one that frowns upon frumpy work wear, I'd suggest jazzing up and outfit with accessories.  A scarf, statement necklace, or fun pair of shoes can add a little spice to what once was a bland outfit. 

Number 3:  Don't gossip or buddy up.  As simple as it sounds, not gossiping can be extremely hard for some.  One of the worst things a person can do to their personal and professional image is gossip in the workplace.  Not only can it damage another person’s character, it can ruin your credibility as an employee. I will get into the subject of gossip another time, but I'd like to reiterate that it's an absolute no-no in the career world. Keep the gossip and snark for after work, please.

At a conference a few years back, one speaker noted the importance of not eating with the same person at lunch every day.  The speaker went on to explain that if you lunch with the same person every day, others may be less likely to approach you or connect with you.  Why you may ask?  The reason is, by spending each lunch with your work BFF, you will be viewed as cliqueish.  Bosses are drawn to employees who can get along and engage with everyone and even something as small as this can cause your manager to get the wrong idea about you.

Number 4:  Find your ‘groove’…and stick with it.  Establishing your personal groove/routine is an essential part of being successful in your career. When I first started at my job, I was a unorganized mess. I had poor time management skills and I let task just pile up. One day, I buckled down and decided I’d create a routine each morning to eliminate being drowned with work.  Turns out, this totally worked.  Even if your routine/groove is a bit silly, it will not only help you stay organized, it will reduce your stress level and leave you feeling that you are on top of things.

Number 5:  Communicate.  A past mentor once told me to ‘communicate until I’m blue in the face’.  Communication with your management and team members is VERY important. Keeping work at work and home at home is all well and good, but this occasionally causes employers (and teammates) to feel left in the dark.   If you are juggling a busy schedule outside of work, let your boss know.  He or she may be able to work with you and adjust your schedule.  If you have children and you need an occasional afternoon off to volunteer at their school, keep you leader in the know.  Contrary to popular belief, managers are quite empathetic towards situations with children. If you keep them in the know, they are willing to work with you if you need a couple days off to be with a sick child, a morning off to take your child to preschool, and even may send you home early on days that work is slow.

Another point that I often stress is the importance of asking for help.  In the workplace, there is no such thing as a stupid question.  Actually, not asking can get you in more trouble and make you look for silly than actually asking the question.  In the past, I was one to keep to myself and not ask anyone for help when I was overwhelmed.  What resulted from this was a huge workload and me second guessing my work.  Long story short: It never hurts to ask.   

Number 6:  Be open to differences in ideas.  The workplace is a melting pot of all different types of people, views, beliefs, and customs.  In addition to such diversity, you may run into people that you’ll butt heads with.  If you haven’t yet, it’s bound to happen…very soon.  If you are in the situation, my best advice is to take a step back and realize that if everyone in the world thought exactly the same, the world would be a pretty boring place.  Even if think your co-worker is the most ridiculous, annoying, airhead, it’s important to be open to their ideas.  Keep in mind it takes a lot of balls for some to vocalize and suggest new ideas. 

The same thing goes for differences in people.  It’s never polite to exclude co-workers.  Even if you feel like you have nothing in common with the 50 year old secretary, the timid girl in finance, or the slightly nerdy guy in engineering, it’s important to include and be friendly to everyone.  Hey, you never know….that shy timid girl in finance could end up being your new best friend.

Number 7:  Keep your word.  If you are going to call a customer back, do it.  If you told billing you’d have all invoices in by noon, make sure they have been sent and on the billing manager’s desk by 11:59.  It’s plain and simple.  If you say are you going to do something, do it.  If you run into obstacles or need an extension on time, communicate!  By not keeping your word, you will appear unreliable…and hey, who wants that?

Number 8:  Go the extra mile.  Sometimes the going the extra mile on a task/project/report can set you apart from the rest of the crowd. Think about it, you may have spent the last few hours working on a mind numbing excel spreadsheet and would love nothing more than to press send then bolt out the door.  What harm would it cause make a quick follow up phone call to the recipient to confirm the work is done and offer support should any questions arise?  If you go that extra mile, it will not only benefit your professional image, it will make you feel better about yourself and more proud of your work.

Number 9:  Don’t be a ‘yes girl’.  For some, saying no is pretty dang easy.  But, for pleasers out there (like me), this can be a tad bit tricky.  For all of us who love to lend a helping hand, knowing when to say no is a struggle.  My best advice for fellow’ yes girls’ is to take a step back and look at your own workload before adding another’s to it.  Occasionally, our willingness to serve can be misconstrued, thus causing us to be viewed as pushovers.  If someone asks you to complete a last minute project and you already have a lot on your plate, I suggest being up front about your current workload: ‘Oh no! I wish I could help you, but I am swamped with repair tickets.’  If they push or give you an excuse why they reeeallly need your help, suggest they come back and ask in a day or two: ‘I’m busy with repairs and tickets, but can possibly get to it in a couple days. Check back with me on Thursday and I’ll have a better idea of what my workload is like.’

Number 10:  Be careful about what you post online.  If you want to be taken seriously in the workplace, I’d highly suggest tweaking your Facebook (and Twitter) privacy settings.  HR departments are checking your social media sites more than you think these days and even the smallest amount of unsavory content can keep you from getting a job.  Your friends may enjoy the pics from last summer’s trip to Vegas, but your company may not.  You may think your table dancing pictures are cute, but I bet your potential employer won’t.  One should be very careful about what is posted on the internet.  If you are one who isn’t into the whole privacy setting thing, I suggest spot checking your social media sites for anything that may put you in a bad light.  A good rule of thumb is:  If you don’t want your mom to see it…your boss won’t want to see it either.

Now it's your turn! Do any of you have any pointers that or tips that I missed? I'd love to hear!


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