The workplace is a lot more than just showing up and collecting your paycheck. If you expect to move up in the organization, you will have to pull off a delicate balancing act of projecting professionalism, dealing with snakes and sharks in the workplace, and problem bosses.
Look Like a Pro
Understanding the importance of a professional image at work will make those around you stand up and notice. No matter how high the quality of your work, and your level of qualifications, your standing with the company can go downhill very quickly if the wrong image gets attached to you. Included in this professional image is your grooming and hygiene standards. That means daily shaving, clean hair, and nice suits. This is especially important when just starting a job and some find it difficult to maintain. Most of us come out of college with two, maybe three business quality outfits. Remember, even if you must cycle suits throughout the week, the time and cost of dry cleaning and ironing them is more than earned back by the enhanced image of professionalism you project. Remember employees reflect the company they work for, and no manager worth working for will tolerate slovenly dress from his employees for long.
Predators at the Office
Your image at work is further amplified by the presence of some of your less than trustworthy coworkers. And, you will figure out who they are quickly. Envy is a deep part of human psychology, and if a coworker perceives you as younger, smarter, better looking, or competitive in any way, they will stop at nothing to build a record of unprofessional behavior toward you. These sharks take many guises and have many tricks up their sleeve. A common trick is to go out drinking or clubbing with a new coworker, and then spread stories of disgraceful behavior. They will steal credit for your work, and some of the more sociopathic among them will engage in heavy perception management (lying) to sink your reputation just for the thrill of it.
This is why as a new employee, it is in your interest to play the loner for awhile. Do not be so stupid as to think your coworkers who seek to ''get to know you'' have your best interests at heart. Besides trying to get you to slip up at work, there are many tricks coworkers will use to try to get you to lose control. They will try to drive you into a rage, or to tears. The goal is the impression you make is that of a problem person, and your on the job performance can be dismissed easily.
Your Attitude is Your Armor
The best thing is to avoid passing your adversaries any ammunition. Control your emotions at all times, and never let them show. Ever notice how it's always on your bad days that someone at work ceaselessly pushes your buttons all day? Its no coincidence. If someone has it out for you at work and detects an opening through your expression, they will stick their fingers in the wound all day long. Well, avoid these attacks by being polite, respectful, and keep your face as inscrutable as possible.
This is especially important if you have what is called the Problem Boss. This boss will yell, insist on complete re-drafts of your work or capriciously change deadlines and tasks. In short, being just about the worst individual you could possibly imagine working with. Some bosses will display these traits with new employees just to test them. If over time it is apparent this is just your boss's style, then you can either start hunting for another job, or try to build a better rapport with your boss.
Cover Your Tracks Outside Work
Many problem bosses are really just overcome with the stress, and can become quite responsive if you engage in private with them (as much of the huffing and puffing is designed to instill fear in public) and make yourself indispensable. The key thing is to put on your mask and let no one know your true face.
With the digital revolution, now your actions outside of the workplace can impact your professional image at work. For example, let's say you are up for a promotion and there is little, if anything, to separate you from the competition. Well, should your employer searched tagged photos of a social media site such as Facebook, the decision may be taken based on what they find. If your boss sees photos of you taking your tenth tequila shot on top of a table at your birthday, while your competitor takes great pains to show only images of him volunteering to work with blind kids, then who do you think your boss will entrust with greater responsibility? This is not to say never to have fun, but control who you have it with, protect your privacy and make sure that compromising images do not end up published all over the Internet. more difficult target to bring down.
So, the importance of a professional image at work is essential and by following these tips, it will not only build your character, but also portray a dedicated worker who wants to succeed.
Bradley, Tony, (September 2009) PC World - Protect Your Privacy on Facebook and Twitter retrieved at http://www.pcworld.com/article/172604/protect_your_privacy_on_facebook_and_twitter.html
Hout, Anton - Overcome Bullying - Workplace Bully Types retrieved at http://www.overcomebullying.org/workplace-bully.html
Argument - Sxc.hu/mzacha