I’ll Show Them How Good I Am
Is it possible to ruin your career before you even get started? The answer is “Yes”.
Steffi and Jackie did not know each other when they landed their first jobs after graduating from college, but their paths would soon intersect.
Steffi was part of the “cool kids” scene in high school and college. She pretty much got what she wanted because everyone liked her. She never had a job before and was fortunate to land this one.
Things just seemed to fall in Steffi’s lap. Her parents were very well off and they never spent time teaching Steffi the way things would be after college.
Steffi always thought she could get what she wanted because it had been this way her life. Unbeknownst to Steffi the real world responds differently than she may have thought.
Jackie came from a more modest upbringing. She learned that things were earned and not just handed to you. Jackie was very excited to get this job.
She knew the job market was tough and she needed to start paying student loans and start making a life for herself.
Jackie began to read up on office etiquette to make sure she wasn’t overstepping especially in the beginning. She knew she couldn’t write her own version of reality if it didn’t mesh with how the company was run.
She read that professional success is based on knowing how to do her job and build solid relationships with your co-workers and bosses.
Steffi, on the other hand, never thought of things like this because she was always the center of attention.
So what should you do when you are starting your career or joining a new company even if you have no experience?
Some experts think if you try too hard and your goal is to make a very strong impression you could be hurting your career advancement.
Steffi was determined to be the company superstar because she felt it was her given right to be the top person. From day 1, Steffi was more interested in creating relationships with upper management and pretty much ignored her co-workers.
This was a big mistake on Steffi’s part. She failed to understand the nuances and subplots that played out every single day.
Jackie was more methodical. She was ecstatic to land a job especially with the way the economy was going. She was determined to master her job responsibilities.
This included being part of the team and having a stake in how her work affected others. She wanted to become proficient in her job, help out where she could and ask intelligent questions to solve problems.
Another goal Jackie wanted to achieve was to remember co-workers’ names, smile and introduce herself to everyone. She made it a point to include everyone.
Steffi was always the Princess, which of course meant she always got her way. She did not understand the cruel reality of the working world. This was no longer a popularity contest.
In fact, the senior executive assistant pulled her aside and said work extra hours as necessary without complaint, and form good relationships inside and outside our department.
Steffi heard the words, but really never intended to follow this advice. Jackie, on the other hand appreciated that the senior member of the staff would take the time to share her expertise. Jackie asked to have lunch with her one day to ask if she would be willing to share more advice with her. Roberta, the senior executive assistant, was delighted and pleased to be a mentor.
Roberta offered the following advice to Jackie. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice and always listen closely to feedback on your performance. We know you are new at this and we want you to succeed. Say thank you to everyone who assists you, and show further appreciation of their time and input with brief thank-you notes.
Since Roberta hired these two young women, it took her all of 5 minutes to see who was going to succeed and who was going to be average.
Steffi was oblivious to the office protocol because she really had her own agenda. She had the attitude that she was brought in to fix the mess that the person who just left created.
The behavior that these young ladies exhibited was pretty evident from the very beginning. The hardest lesson was yet to come.
The 6-month semi-annual reviews were right around the corner. Steffi felt a little nervous, but she was confident she was doing a good job.
When she sat down with Roberta for her review, Roberta asked Steffi to assess her performance to date.
Steffi gave Roberta a standard answer, “I think I have excelled and I am ready to move to the next level”.
Roberta has heard this response many times in the past. She liked Steffi because she hired her. When Roberta assessed Steffi’s performance, Steffi could not believe that was what she portrayed.
Steffi was mad, but she remained composed. Roberta suggested that Steffi improve a specific set of responsibilities. Roberta also told Steffi that these were part of her job description and if they were not done, further action would be implemented.
When Jackie had her review, Roberta asked the same question. Jackie’s response was well thought out. Jackie went through a list of things she was working on and the improvements she wanted to make.
She discussed her progress on projects and her interactions with co-workers. She finished with advice Roberta could give her to keep improving and adding value to the company.
Roberta was very pleased because Jackie took the time to evaluate her own performance. Roberta gave her some things she needed to work on and Jackie was grateful to know certain things needed improvement.
So who are you, Steffi or Jackie? Before you answer that question are you being honest with yourself. People that see themselves as one person may be completely misguided.
Remember, this is not your company. You have certain obligations and duties that you must fulfill. If you approach your job with a positive attitude, you will be more productive and understand the things you must do to help the company succeed.
If you are a “Debbie Downer”, you may not realize it. You may find fault in everyone else but yourself.
The big question you have to ask yourself is, “Will I be better off if I keep switching jobs or do I need to honestly assess my performance for what it is and make the necessary changes?”
Be happy with helping your company succeed and stop blaming others for your attitude. Your productivity will soar when you are making a difference.