Workplace Adulthood

Workplace Adulthood

There are many old sayings about indicators of adult behavior:  taking responsibility for your actions (or inactions), pulling your own weight at home and work, being able to carry money (or a debit card in today’s world) without spending it, or giving back to your community. Your family probably had other phrases that you heard over and over again as you grew up. Without realizing it, you more than likely internalized many of them, and they helped form your character.

Now you have a job with adult expectations, and you don’t have a parent or grandparent looking over your shoulder advising you. You’re on your own. So what do you need to learn that will help you appear more “grown up” professionally? It goes without saying that you need to show up (on time), and do what’s specified in your job description. But is that enough—enough to get you noticed, valued, or promoted? Probably not.

What can you do you to stand out more at work during the next several months? Can you learn to be a better team player, or, even more important, learn team leadership skills? Can you learn to graciously share credit for success and accept responsibility for failure? Can you take more initiative and do more than expected?

Can you be more helpful or more supportive of colleagues? Can you stop complaining about the performance of others or of your boss? Can you decline to participate in office gossip or group think?

These suggestions may seem like basic common sense, but as many philosophers and pundits have noted, “Common sense is not so common.”

As a beginning professional, there is much to learn about workplace behavior. A work setting is similar to life in general, and you will find unfairness, nepotism, favoritism, and/or incompetence, as well as some discriminatory practices. Learning to navigate these issues while maintaining your own integrity, standards, and, yes,  common sense is a good indication that you will do just fine.

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