Become aware of unspoken rules
Regardless of how lax your start-up or company might appear on the surface, every organization that intends to make any amount of revenue has to operate under rules. Despite the ugly perception of that word, rules are good. They ensure order, organization, and consequently, allow you to remain sane.
You won’t find them in any HR manual on your first day, but understand that there are always unspoken, unwritten, and sometimes even insidious rules, that if gone unchecked can wreak havoc on an otherwise well-intentioned company’s culture.
It’s these unspoken rules that can set employees up to fail, because expectations are not laid out clearly enough from the get-go, leading people to maneuver through some sticky situations with blinders on.
Set up boundaries
Much like any other part of your life, having healthy boundaries in the workplace is imperative to your well-being.Establishing these boundaries can be daunting because your livelihood is on the line, but it’s absolutely necessary.
There are often unspoken rules and expectations for people to come early, stay late, stay connected after hours or on weekends, or go “above and beyond”. Resistance can seem futile, because you don’t want to appear lazy, undedicated, and you don’t want to risk losing your job.
The problem with a lack of clearly outlined expectations and rules is that it leaves employees ill-equipped, fearful, and resentful – a sentiment that will spread across the team and eventually the whole organization.
I’ve seen this time and time ago with new grads, students, and interns, who are often expected to work long, arduous hours in order to “earn” their place. Or, parents who have to live at a precise time every day to pick up their kids from daycare; they might not appear as hardworking, ambitious, or dedicated as their single counterparts who are still living in their mom’s basement.
Stop “killing time” and realize your worth
The bottom line is, you and your time are valuable.
When I go in for job interviews, despite how desperate I might be at the time for a job, I hold my head up high, and consider that I am interviewing the company just as much as they are interviewing me. I am seeing whether the company would be a good fit for me as far as my goals, values, and talent is concerned – I am bringing as much to the table as they are (sometimes more). Therefore, I like to think of it as contracting out my time to them.
Time is something you can never get back, it’s your most precious commodity.Staying late, when you really don’t have anything to do, nor any motivation or energy left to work, is a complete waste of the most precious part of your life. People are often forced to appease management for the sake of optics – to appear as if they’re operating at optimal productivity, when they are really just “killing time” (*cough* Facebook-ing).
Instead, work smarter, not longer. Take those 7 or 8 hours you’re paid to be at work, and put your whole mind, and heart into your job. Remember, they hired you because you are awesome, now act like it.
Work with integrity, establish boundaries against the unspoken rules in your organization, and don’t buy into the pretension around you – you’ve understood the value of your time and your talent, and that is priceless.
Here’s to not selling yourself short…