Don’t touch the kettle!
Elina was hired for a scientifically unheard-of position, either of an officer manager or a kind of overseer. She wasn’t paid any salary for that. She was just kindly assisting the director (also a newly appointed one), as she put it, in ‘getting the company, that we had ruined, off the ground’. Let’s call it X company.
She immediately started ‘getting things off the ground’: she put to rights our magazine filing cabinet, throwing the magazines one by one on the floor with her plump clawed paws; she brought from home something exotic containing dried flowers to replace our tea, and the worst thing, she washed the kettle. That is, she, with an air of utmost importance, brought some anti-scaling agent from a store and polished the kettle into unnatural gloss.
Rule #1: Don’t touch the kettle. Life in your new workplace has been already shaped and established. If there is dust somewhere or dark stains on the cups, that’s because the people here feel at home, and they don’t need an inspector, who will be ‘demonstrating’ in a worthless manner ‘how things should be done’. Wait a week until the people accept you. Then ask for a permission to change something, and only afterwards start washing, rearranging furniture and throwing away the unnecessary things.
Elina’s another regrettable mistake was that she refused to admit that she could learn something from us. ‘Do you know, how to work with this program’? ‘Sure, I do.’ I have never heard any other answer from her. As a result, when the young lady had to occupy the manager’s position following my resignation, she found herself absolutely helpless.
Even if you are a cool pro, each company has its own specifics. A café has its regular clientele, whom you don’t know yet; a workshop has its machinery, each with its own characteristics. People, who are afraid to admit that there is something they couldn’t understand, look stupid.
Rule #2: Learn from new coworkers. Even if you’re a boss, don’t put on a controller’s mask. Ask them to tell you about the job, how it all works here.
X company’s new director was a typical ‘facility owner’. That is, he loved to talk heart-to-heart to his employees about their problems. He attended the lower-level employees’ wedding parties, thus making them fall into raptures. All in all, he acted as a ‘good dad’ as best as he could. This, however, didn’t prevent him from running into the wage arrears. He owed the resigned office employees the substantial sums.
Rule #3: Respect you co-workers’ personal space. You shouldn’t start philosophical conversations, share your life story, show your kids’ photos and ask about private matters. It’s nice to be on friendly terms with your co-workers, but you shouldn’t fall over yourself to become an ‘insider’ at once.
Co-working is a very intimate form of communication in itself. Such qualities as tolerance, ability to compromise, readiness to backup and lend a hand to others, are soon manifested in a workplace. In a professional team, it’s much more important to be a quick thinker, to meet the deadlines and not to hinder the process, rather than to treat everyone to pies daily.
Once Elina asked me to wash currants. “Well and good. At least all of us will be eating it, I thought. Though, in fact, it wasn’t quite clear: a) why should we eat currants in the middle of the workday; b) why can the sales manager wash currants and the chief’s informant cannot?
My actions were a typical mistake of a person, who couldn’t set the limits. When in a new workplace, you should find out, what kind of people your new coworkers are and what’s the organization setup. But, the organization, in turn, should figure out, who you are and how you should be treated.
And, therefore, rule #4: Set the limits. If you find it difficult to focus on work, when there is someone listening to the music nearby, ask the employees to put on the headphones. If you work overtime, demand payment for extra hours. Yes, there is a crisis now and everyone needs a job, but there’s still a lack of high-skilled personnel. Therefore, you shouldn’t tolerate and agree to everything for the sake of a job. Even if you are afraid of losing your job, you shouldn’t necessarily show it.
And, the most important rule: if you can’t adapt, just leave.
There are no such means that could make evil and narrow-minded people love you. Or, at least, help you get along with them. If you get to a company, where an unprofessional boss has picked out a team based on the principle ‘if necessary, they would agree to carry the boxes’, run away! We spend 8 hours a day working, so what would your life be like if you spend this time in a company of unpleasant people? Let your ideal job and your dream team find you. They are on their way. And every time you resign from an unsuitable company, you make this way shorter.