After seeing the recent shit storm after GLOs post etc and a further call from some of the ECs. I thought after being a long time lurker it would be time to throw my 2c in the pool.
For the younger guys on this Sub-Reddit who are graduating from HS, University etc. These pointers may give you a leg up when joining the more formal workforce.
N.B, The experience is from whilst working in a Multi-National European Manufacturing company. Where I was in global functions during the past 4 years. Working with a lot of different cultures, languages & nationalities.
TL:DR, Do a good job, be prepared & you might be rewarded for it.
1) You have a lot to learn.
When you start in the workforce you know next to nothing, even if you graduated from a top level University. Business/Trades are very different from the theory of the lecture theatre & classroom.
However most colleagues & managers are ready and willing to help you, if you are humble, eager to listen and learn. Ask for help when you don’t know what to do. But make sure you only ask once and then again only for clarification. Take a lot of notes on the process & ways of working to help you in the future. You will forget 90% of what you’re told in on-boarding. So write it down.
When you’re unsure. Try to answer the question yourself before asking colleagues. Even if you have to do it out loud.
This will enable you to get up to speed a lot quicker than your other new colleagues and become a productive member of the team. It normally takes 4-8 months to get up to speed, make sure you’re closer to 4 months.
2) Develop a Bullshit detector, fast.
You’ll meet plenty of people in large companies who get paid for doing absolutely nothing. They push paper and attend meetings without getting anything done. Avoid these people like the plague.
If anyone says they are “Busy” they are either horrendous at organising their time or lying. People with a high workload generally get stuff done and don’t need to inform people how “Busy” or “Important” they are. They also tend to use a lot of meaningless buzz works & phrases.
3) Be open to constructive criticism. Even when it sucks.
Ask for feedback on how you are performing & what others would have done differently with the same information. See & analyse how you are interacting and working with colleagues and what you can do to improve/develop improving the performance of the team you are working in.
Seek out areas in which you need development to improve them as much as possible. Do this on a 4-6 month basis with colleagues and record how you are progressing within the first 18 months. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll improve in such a short period of time without realising it. Don’t leave it just for your annual appraisal with your boss.
4) Turn up to all meetings with paper and at least 2 pens.
Focus on the meetings objectives and get it done as efficiently as possible. Don’t be distracted by email, WhatsApp etc. whilst you’re in a meeting. Leave the laptop & mobile on your desk*.
*Unless you’re the one running the meeting and need it for presentations, charts etc.
The 2nd pen is in case the 1st one runs out. Always be prepared for system failure.
5) Discover & understand your strengths & weaknesses.
Solidify & pursue your strengths, minimise the amount of work that is dependent on your weaknesses. Time wise try to improve both but concentrate 70% on your strengths, 30% on your 3 weakest areas. This has worked for well for me.
Skill development doesn’t need to be relevant for the work you are currently doing or want to do in the future. However it does need to be done off the clock, by first reading/learning then applying in low risk areas within the work you’re doing.
Podcasts are perfect for commutes. I would recommend;
• Jocko Podcast
• Art of Charm
• The Minimalists podcast
6) Build a network of diverse colleagues.
Get to know the people in your cross functional teams by finding out about them. Don’t only hang around with only the other young employees / new hires. Older guys generally have been around the block and can save you a lot of time and effort getting information, money, contacts etc.
Once you have a good relationship, if there are any 50/50 decisions on the table 9 times from 10 they will back your idea based on the trust that you have built.
• Dale Carnegies – How to win friends & influence people is a good starting point for this.
7) Produce high quality work, always.
Easier said than done. In the beginning it’s a ball ache to do the little extras, but 6-12 months in you’ve built the discipline to automatically do these extras. The devil is in the details, but the payoff for your career & reputation is massive. You’ll be first in line for mentorships, course & trainings as you’ve proved your worth without asking for anything.
This will set you apart from 80% of your colleagues within the first 2 months.
8) Give your manager & colleagues praise when things go right.
If you’re young & making mistakes (which is completely normal & anticipated) your boss will most likely be taking some shit for you & shouldn’t be telling you to begin with. If you continue to make the same mistake over and over. That’s on you and needs to be stopped ASAP.
Once the tide begins to change and projects are coming in on time, early and under budget. Make sure when telling people that it was due to their leadership & guidance. You manager should then be able to leverage a higher salary for you next time round & entrust you as their right hand man. Opening doors to more interesting projects & higher level individuals in the company.
9) Salary increases need solid objectives.
Once you have put in the work and are beginning to get a grip of the objectives in your role. Start asking your manager what you need to do to get a salary increase. Hit these objectives and then ask for the salary increase. If you’re not given this without a valid explanation begin to look for a new company to work for.
It took me 9 months longer than it should to be get a salary increase which resulted in a loss of €5k in earnings. Not a great loss but still a bit annoying.
10) Live overseas.
If you get the chance to live over-seas for a small amount of time. Do it! It pushes your comfort zone very quickly. It will accelerate your personal resilience, maturity & development. If applicable learn the local language as much as you can. Try to make local friends & don’t just hang around with Ex-pats. Your experience will be richer for it.