Updated: Apr 8, 2020
When I started my first job, I felt a little lost. I have big dreams of getting promotions and climbing the corporate ladder, but I am not sure how to do it or where to start. Fortunately, I chanced upon a book by Richard Templar 'The Rules of Work.' This book offers sound guiding principles that aid in my day to day activities at work – what to do and what not to do. It did give me the confidence to navigate through an organisation's complexity, and I recommend it for career starters. Although there are more than 100 rules inside the book, these are my favourite seven takeaways. I have added my thoughts and opinions for some rules.
It is wise to spot a useful area that no one else has and filled it up with your expertise. In short, leverage your strength and carve a niche for yourself! For example, if you love Excel and nobody does the expense report, you can take it up. Or, if you love writing and nobody does the post-event newsletter, you can take it up. Passionate about organising events? Be the guy who plans company dinner, party or any other functions!
The keyword here is 'useful'. Ensure that the area you put your hands up for has a direct impact on the organisation because creating a niche for yourself usually requires you to stay overtime. However, if you master this, it will increase your visibility.
You have definitely heard of time management but, having the best time management yet lacks energy, will not allow you to get your job done. You also need to learn how to manage your energy, and there are many ways you can do it. One is to stay fit and healthy - exercise and eat properly. Sleep earlier if you know that it is going to be busy the next day. You need to understand what reduces your potential at work (like having a full lunch) and understand what time of the day do you accomplish most. Keep check of your emotional energy and environment as well. What happens at home should always remain at home.
Like the analogy that the book used, a cobra has a lot of power, venom and energy. But it rarely strikes. It only strikes when the situation is needed, advantageous, meaningful and vital. Be like a cobra. Identify critical moments and capitalise it. These moments are usually your career-enhancing moments. They can be a presentation to the board, organising a trade show, handling a crisis or lead a business strategy. Because these moments don't come frequently, you cannot miss it or worst, screw it up. A lot of people, when presented with these, will react with stress or panic - 'why me?' You need to think about this moment as an opportunity to shine. There is no bad job. All you need to do is to change your perception.
'Hey, did you see Peter and Karina staying up late in the bar after our event?! I knew they have something between them! Oh, do you know that Peter is married? What do you think?'
Your answer better be 'Because this has nothing to do with me, I am sorry I don't know.'
Never ever gossip. Ever. You can listen but that's it. Do not give your opinion or pass anything on. This leads me to another rule - only speak sense. You need to portray the right image - a smart, dependable, knowledgeable person who makes an impact whenever you talk. If you are inexperienced, at least avoid making offensive jokes, sexism, racism or profanity. Take a pause and think twice before you speak. Your reputation is at stake.
Check out my other blogs on #communication.
Are you aspired to move into a more prominent and more critical role in your organisation? Then start thinking of the bigger picture by asking questions. You need to understand things like business process, the structure and what are the primary revenue drivers. You need to understand what is the purpose of executing such strategies. You need to know how does your work contribute to the overall success of the organisation. To do that, you need to ask questions - ask why and how it fits into the big picture. Only when you have the insights, then you can make a more significant contribution. Of course, you need to be smart by asking the right question at the right time.
Understand others' motives – what drive people. But before you understand others, you must understand what are yours first. Many things motivate people. According to the book, these are the followings – power, money, prestige, revenge, a need to hurt or a need to be loved. I believe there are more to it, but that will be a whole different discussion on motivation theories. The point is, it is essential to know what motivate people and have them at your advantage. If you know that power drives your colleague, be smart when you play the power struggle game. If making money to raise their children is your colleague motivation, be wise to check on their children wellbeing regularly.
Make your boss looks good! Even if your boss is a fool or incompetent, never put your boss down. Simple reason – if your boss looks good, your team looks good and it reflects perfectly on you. However, a majority of people criticise their boss behind their back and this is a self-sabotage move. People will quote what you said, and the last thing that you want is to have your criticism landed on your boss. Take advantage of the situation by helping them if you know your boss is not up to standard. It shows loyalty and trust.
There are many other rules in this book, but these are my favourites – and also the ones that I tend to overlook. This book is easy to read so I encourage you, especially career starter, to get a copy. Share with me which are your favourite rules!