How many of you were given a user manual how to be successful at work?
What are the things that you should do and things you should not do at work?
This is something that was on my mind some time ago.
This is especially so for the graduates fresh out of university and going into the working world.
The transition from being a full time student to a full time employee can be quite a shift.
However, I noticed that some of the graduates were able to carry themselves better than the others.
Specifically, what I meant was, some of the graduates know what to do in the work place that:
- makes themselves more productive
- looks more assured and that they are in control of their time
- able to tackle the uncertainty of scope of work slightly beyond them
- say generally the right stuff
- not do the things that make them look bad
- look generally more satisfied with where they are
It is as if they were given a user manual on what to do and what not to do.
I was certain I didn’t receive this form of training when I graduate 13 years ago. I made mistakes here and there. However, I felt I generally do most of the right things.
On the other hand, I seen co-workers that became more of a “price-taker”. Another term that my ex colleague used was a “square wheel”.
- generally look pissed off when you give them more work
- always find a reason to leave work on time and early
- shoots you the death stare if you ask them to do work that will eat into their personal time
- the majority of the work you can task them, requires detail instructions, else things would fall apart because they cannot expand their competency well
This might not be right but here are some of the traits that I observed made the former better.
They have a good idea where they are going
Some graduates are more savvy in that they have a more polished view about their career trajectory.
Contrast this to others who depend very much on luck where their career would veer towards.
The former understands to a certain extend what they want to build up at this stage of their career.
For those that are unsure, they are in tuned with this anxiety that they are not aware of the path ahead, and actively sought to find that out.
The latter will succeed, if they follow a good boss who could mold them. If not, a lot of time they become the corporate lemmings that do what the managers ask.
They are organized planners in a natural manner
When I went reservist 2 years ago, I encountered an Ah Beng kind of ex-regular who got out and work in a bank.
What surprised me was that he told us he has a habit of going into office 1 hour before regular office hour. He prefers to get every thing ready, clear his emails, take time to prepare his coffee for the start of the work day.
That took me by surprise because I was biased against his culture and didn’t realize for some folks, they could have this form of morning ritual.
Some people that I encountered are just better planners.
Their advantage is that they tend to be in control of their schedule better. They look more assured and that they have their shit together.
We are there to serve our bosses, and often we are at their beck and call, as some job nature is just as volatile as commodities prices. However, even in this culture, these planners have a way to create structured in chaos.
The bosses do see that is this is a good test of their competency. These become the folks who is not just the bottom feeding worker but someone rough yet have the potential to play at a higher ceiling.
They find meaning in Working
When you ask most of your friends, they will say that, if they had $1 million, they would not do the job they are currently doing.
They will shake leg at home.
The compensation becomes very important for most people. We are saddled with the endowment effect. If you pay me $X I will work this much.
Why should I give you more? (unless it is during recession and I need to keep my job)
There are the good performers who finds that they can get satisfaction in different ways:
- The software engineer that gets the reward out of solving difficult problems
- The customer facing engineer that likes to communicate with people
- The associate who believes acquiring skills is more lucrative than the actual compensation package
Due to these factors, you have to push them less hard than if they do not have these factors.
They are generally more satisfied at work as well.
As they are motivated more by these things, their definition of work and leisure might be more blurred. They may not equate work time and their own time that clearly.
There may be more factors that separates the more savvy graduate worker than the less savvy ones.
Having a good career is important. You can only have this much capital at the start of your working life to invest.
However, being a good performer, strategically moving up in your industry is a lower risk way of building up your wealth.
What we do during our career, is something, most of us thought it should come naturally to us. And as such we do not pick up a book to read up to not fall into common pitfalls or to make some right steps.
Our ego tells us we are actually better as a worker in our field than we are. That could be a dangerous thing.
It will just make us crash down harder.