When it comes to corporate, people retain certain preconceived ideas about it and corporate fights back setting unwritten rules that are not applicable and indulgent to everyone.
For recent graduates, that are unfamiliar with these rules, transitioning from college to corporate then becomes challenging. At every step of the way, they are being hit by reality and are starting to figure out some hard truths about corporate.
Wondering how to transition to corporate smoothly and how to correct your misconceptions about corporate as soon as possible?
Start reprogramming your mind and integrating these hard truths right now.
Misconception #1: Money is compensatory
Money pays the rent, the car note and the student loan but relying on your pay to cope with the long hours, the office politics and the difficult boss is a mistake.
Money will be compensation enough just for the first few months when you are able to pay the bills. But it will get meaningless where validation, recognition, purpose and fulfillment go a long way.
Developing a healthy work balance, assessing your strengths and weaknesses, and pursuing your purpose are in fact detrimental to career success.
Misconception #2: Your grades are no longer important and your performance in class has nothing to do your performance at work.
What is required of you in corporate, on your first jobs, is not really to understand the different aspects of your job but mostly to understand the task given to you and to execute them.
First of all, your grades will no longer validate you, you will be able to gloat and feel superior anymore. However, you will be having dreaded performance review, once a year, instead of irregular exams. In truth, you will no longer graded on your level of knowledge and your ability to memorize theories but on your ability to work in a team.
Secondly, the company takes all the credit for your work.
Finally, if you missed class back in the days, you could still have caught up with the class and get off with a warning. But if you miss work or are late often, then you become lost in the project and in office politics and you might get fired.
Because you will be judged annually on the collective performance of the team, here are a few tips:
- Search for the influencers on your team, get along with them and grow your own influence with them.
- Hold up your end of the bargain in the team and help others pull their weight, without taking credit for it.
- Keep your personal and ambitious goals in mind for motivation.
Misconception #3: Your diploma will automatically get you a job
In the past, your diploma from an ivy league college will get you a position with status and authority. Nowadays, people are looking for leadership qualities, character, personality, novelty and diversity.
You currently have to go through multiple job interviews, that are now psychological evaluations, competing with someone with the exact same credentials and outperforming yourself, before getting hired by a company.
Misconception #4: Your education will fit the job description
Companies lure low profile, cheap and gullible graduates with polished presentations, attractive job descriptions.
At an entry-level position, your job will be everything and anything the manager wants it to be. Your entry-level position often begins with menial work, beneath you and your education level. And in that case, you will have to put up with it and outdo yourself.
Executing menial work serves the purpose of building trust between you and your team, and of demonstrating your resistance towards hard work.
Misconception #5: You can figure it all on your own
When you arrive in a new company, keep it mind that you cannot figure it all by yourself and you have to be open to learning.
- Find a mentor to get advice and create a support system.
- Ask questions to your coworkers to increase your influence and your technical competencies. Learn all the information needed for you to succeed at your job.
- Takes courses, trainings and keep reading books to develop yourself and your knowledge.
Misconception #6: Your are indispensable to the company
It doesn’t matter which school you graduated from, at entry-level, every employee looks, talks, walks and acts the same. It is highly likeable that you will be treated all the same, interchanged at some point, moved around from team to team, from projects to projects.
Your status shouldn’t be taken personally. It is a rite of passage.
Misconception #7: Corporate requires common and usual skills
Graduates were required to learn and memorize theories. In corporate, you will be asked to execute soldier-like, be dictated what to write down. Find a way to understand what is asked of you without asking too many dumb questions.
Avoid open debates and correcting your managers like in the classroom.
Misconception #8: The company’s public image and values are legit
The company image and values are not always injected and reflected in the company’s workplace.
Most of the time, hierarchy is not always respected, power is unevenly distributed, roles are attributes unofficially and values are non-existent in the workplace. A toxic and individualistic company can publicly encourage team work and be elected “Best Company to Work in”. It’s all about product marketing.
Misconception #9: Blindly comply to your orders and assignments
Obeying at your bosses beck and call shows your loyalty, your ability to take and follow directions. It is also dangerous because you can take the fall and be thrown under the bus for any failure.
In any case, make sure that you:
- do what is asked of you to a certain extent.
- observe your boss’ methods, attitude towards you and others. His or her behavior might be part of his or her process.
- keep your eyes and ears open in case of bullying and of excessive treatment coming from your bosses.
Misconception #10: Everybody knows better
You might think that evolving to corporate means that everyone there has evolved and matured as well. Everyone is educated and trained for their job, but not everyone is self-trained, disciplined, polite and respectful.
You will definitely encounter toxic coworkers that can easily make your life a living hell if you don’t know how to deal with them.
Misconception #11: You can make friends in the workplace
It is strongly advised not to create deep level of friendships in the workplace because your coworkers are not to be trusted with confidential and personal information.
Misconception #12: Office politics are easy to navigate
Office politics are more difficult to navigate than it seems, especially at an entry-level position because you have to try to be liked and to get along with everybody, from the beginning, without showing that you are making that effort.
Outside of work, you were able to get into a fight with whomever you pleased without ripping any consequences. In the workplace, your ability to assimilate, to fit in and to get along with your coworkers will be tested during the first three months on the job.
What to do then?
- Be an easy-going, a non-partisan, untalkative, reliable coworker that everyone confides to.
- Don’t take unpopular opinions, even for your “ally” in the workplace.
- Show respect for other people opinions.
- Show deference —not submission— for hierarchy. Avoid stepping on toes and going above someone’s head.
- Develop character, integrity and a proper attitude.
- Use laughter to defuse bombs.
Misconception #13: Transparency and candor are welcomed with open arms
Don’t openly correct your managers in front of his or her superiors or subordinates or anyone really before being labeled as a “difficult” or “problematic” employee. Keep your thoughts, opinions and concern to yourself.
There are no rewards in pointing out issues, candidly picking bones with bosses and speaking truth to power. Your credibility and professional judgement can suffer from it.
Misconception #14: Invest yourself in your job
One of the greatest and most common mistake of young graduates is to invest themselves and their time into their jobs. It is essential for you to:
- put yourself first.
- not invest too much in projects nor merge your identity with your role in the company. This way, if a project fails, you will not entirely feel the blowback.
- accomplish your required hours and put in a few hours here and there on special occasions.
- build a life for yourself outside of corporate that will be a buffer when the workplace becomes toxic.
Misconception #15: Promotion comes from hard work
It is a wildly known fact that promotion does not come from hard work but from the illusion of hard work.
To get promoted, it is necessary to:
- not outperform your colleagues. You have to slightly perform better than them otherwise you come off as a show off and your coworkers will hate you,
- not be overly efficient. Otherwise, you will be setting the bar high, be unprepared for unexpected setbacks and you will be setting a negative precedent for yourself,
- gain the right influence and acquire the right influencers.
Misconception #16: Promotion will get you respect and authority
Yes, a certain amount of authority and influence is acquired through a promotion. Nevertheless, people won’t follow you or perform beyond your orders and your stated authority. You will only be able to control your subordinates through monetary leverage.
According to John C. Maxwell in Developing the Leader Within You, it is only by building solid relationships with your peers that you will gain influence, increase your credibility and your authority.
You must not pursue a promotion just for the status and the title, without being prepared for higher level of leadership. You must develop self-discipline and character first and avoid attracting negative attention on yourself, at all cost.
Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!
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