HR & Management

Revealing the business advice you SHOULDN’T take

5 min read

30 June 2015

Whether you are just about to start your career, or if you’re thinking of changing your job further down the line, there are some great – and not so great – pieces of advice out there to help you settle in and make an impression.

For instance, visiting your new workplace before you start a job in order to meet people and find out more about how things work is a great opportunity to introduce yourself to the company and give yourself a head start.

Unfortunately, you’ll also hear some really bad advice. Though it might seem at first like it makes sense, a lot of the so-called career advice out there will actually end up setting you back a step or two. Here’s my selection of the worst examples:

1. Make sure you’re being seen to put in the hours; get in first and leave last

Some roles will require you to get in early and leave late to ensure the workplace works properly, for example in a telephone or service based role where you need to make sure the resource is there. Nine times out of ten, though, this should be shared out fairly between staff members. Don’t allow anyone to take advantage of you just because you’re new and only just learning the ropes of the company.

2. Always make the tea and coffees

You are not a dogsbody. Other people will treat you how you allow them to – so don’t start off letting them take you for granted as this will only end up escalating. Certainly help out your fellow colleagues and make sure you pull your weight; but if you’re always the person doing the drinks rounds, you’ll soon start to feel under-appreciated and ultimately you will want to leave.

3. Never push for a promotion; wait to be asked

If you are deserving of a promotion or pay rise, then you should absolutely pursue your goals. Of course you need to give yourself time to really earn it and take into account the culture and attitudes of the business, but you should certainly stand your ground to avoid being deemed a push-over. If you think you’re ready, let your managers know, in an appropriate way. The worst they can say is no!

4. Don’t upset the normal order of things, we don’t like new ideas

Starting with a new organisation may mean you come up against a whole new work ethos, not to mention the processes and procedures. A sign of a good company, no matter what the industry, is that it is prepared to evaluate and improve. A new face in the business with a fresh perspective is the ideal time to do this. In fact, in your first six months you have a unique opportunity, bringing your external perspective and new ideas to a team of colleagues that may be craving change themselves.

5. Don’t waste time talking to them; no one likes them

This is a workplace, not a popularity contest. Some office-based workplaces can be dominated by one difficult staff member, which turns the whole team into a clique before long. There’s no need to be confrontational, but ignoring this advice is the best idea. You may have common interests with the ‘difficult one’ but it is important to and far easier to keep out of schoolyard politics and discover new work friends.

6. I wouldn’t mention that you’re gay/married/single/have kids/have a life

Whilst it is never necessary to share every personal moment with your colleagues, it’s important that you can be yourself at work and feel comfortable within the office atmosphere. Being asked to suppress your sexuality or marital status for the sake of your career is wrong, plain and simple. This is actually far from advice, and more of an insult, so feel free to put your foot down and even speak to HR if needs be.

Sarah Pinch is the managing director of Pinch Point Communications, president of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and non-executive director of the Health and Safety Executive

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