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Tuesday, April 18, 2006 

Finding, Working & Keeping a Job (Part II)


Be punctual
Just because you’re hired doesn’t mean you can be lax about being at work on time. Employers have a business to run and customers rely on us to be open for business on time. That means employees have to show up on time. Even in Greece, where being late seems to be a constitutionally guaranteed right, employers will appreciate any employee who thinks enough of their job to show up on time. Maybe you’re getting away with being consistently late but if you haven’t had a raise or promotion since you started working 10 years ago, you might want to try showing up on time. If you are going to be late, phone your boss and apprise her of your situation. Some things are beyond your control and most employers understand that. The only time we have a problem with it is when your ‘emergencies’ become routine.

And it’s not just punctuality with regards to your starting time but to all aspects of your job. If you’re constantly late performing your regular duties then don’t complain when your boss is always frustrated with you.

Promotions and raises are earned.
Employers shouldn’t have to pat your back every time you finish the job you were hired to do. It’s expected from you. The only time I will go out of my way to commend an employee is when they’ve done something extra. If you want a pat on the back every time you show up for work then give me something to praise. Be better at your job than other employees and work harder so when you ask for that raise, your chances of getting one will be that much higher. If you want a promotion then do extra work, show some iniative, come up with some innovative ideas to make the business more profitable. Get rid of your sense of entitlement. Your mother thinks you were born special—you have to prove it to me.

Don’t argue with your boss.
If your boss tells you that he wants the photocopier stocked with lemon yellow paper, do it. If you have a problem with it, state your reason and don’t resort to whining. If you really do have a point and he’s got half a brain in his head, he’ll listen. If not, just let him have his lemon yellow paper. The only time you should be ready to argue with your boss is if he’s asking you to do something illegal, morally reprehensible or dangerous. Other than that, it’s his money, if he wants to waste it on frivolous things, bad decisions, or crazy schemes, that’s his problem, not yours. If you don’t like it, then you owe it to yourself to find a new job if it’s that bad. If he can’t be reasoned with, no amount of fighting will make him a better person.

Know your place.
If you were hired in a position other than VP or President, don’t presume to think you can treat the petty cash box as your personal piggy bank. Don’t think you can take two hour lunch breaks because the CEO does or that you can talk on the phone all day and neglect customers just because the boss’s wife can get away with it. Just do the job you were hired to do and don’t obsess about your co-workers unless it seriously affects your own job. If you have to complain about the laziness or incompetence of your boss’s spouse, chances are your boss knows about it already and he or she is more apt to fire you than divorce the spouse. If you don’t like the CEOs extended lunch breaks just remember that the CEO has to answer for his/her own performance. Most incompetence is rewarded with a place in the unemployment lineup. (Unless of course you work in the Greek civil service where it's considered to be a prerequisite for working there.) Even if you’re on friendly terms with your boss doesn’t mean you have the right to constantly tell him how to do his job. If you can’t respect your boss, at least respect his/her position.

Don’t make a nuisance of yourself
Just because you may have finished all your work for the day doesn’t mean everyone else has too so don’t engage your co-workers, least of all your boss, in conversation just to kill your time. That means no pointless phone calls to ask your boss if he thinks you can have Aug. 21, 2012 off work or whether she prefers Bic blue pens or Uni-ball black pens. She won’t care and will resent you wasting her time no matter how good an employee you are.

Extra Note
If your job requires you to handle cash, do not ever presume to think you can take any of it without permission. Ever. Not even 1€. Not even if your car is going to be repossessed or if you have no food to eat for the day. Not even if your boss is your friend, your relative or on vacation in Tahiti for the next 2 months. You never take anything…especially cash…without permission from the employer and even then you should think twice about it. Would you allow your best friend to take money from your wallet and leave you an I.O.U. note without asking first? Too many employees make the mistake of thinking that just because there’s cash in the till that it’s pure profit and as long as they let their boss know they took money, it’s not theft. If you haven’t asked permission, it most definitely IS theft.

If you can't be bothered reading all this...just rent the first season of the BBC sitcom The Office and learn how NOT to behave at work.

"If you can’t respect your boss, at least respect his/her position"

I'll just comment on the above sentence and it will come from my own personal experiences and it is not a suggestion or a rule of thumb for me or anything like that.

After university, I have been working non stop for 7 years. Currently I have my own company and operate as a contractor (IT). Before that, I had three employers. And more managers than I care to remember. Although managers are not boses per se, unfortunately if they are your superior, they 'act' as your boss. Out of the people I have met in these positions, I think there was only a single person who had earned my respect. It was not via back patting or kind words or anything like that. He earned my respect because he filled the role he was supposed to fill. He trusted me with my decisions on my role, he knew the boundaries, he was firm when he should be and relaxed when there was no need for the whip. In a sentence, he showed respect for his team (not just me).

I have learned that respect is earned. I agree with respecting boundaries and of course performing under your position, but as for myself, my only expectations now are respecting boundaries. Personal respect comes after hard work, both ways.


PS: I never liked that damned 'The Office'! I just don't get it! It is parody, I get that, but .... :)

This is all really good advice. Having worked in a completely dysfunctional office for the brunt of my working career, I can't really imagine what it would be like to work in a "normal" work environment. I had a boss who was, basically, a crack whore. She wasn't always a crack whore, but she became one. Agh, what a nightmare.

The being late thing is why I could never work retail. I'm not late for an afternoon or evening job, but I can't be anywhere on time in the mornings. That part of my brain is broken. In fact, that world is probably better off if I don't wake up before noon.

I've managed, throughout my years, because I'm generally an exceptional worker who does things quickly and expertly. And I've usually worked out a schedule that means I don't arrive at work until noon or 1.

I just don't think I'll ever have a real job in Greece because there isn't much available, and certainly not a "career" position. An M.A. in Lit doesn't get me very far here, unfortunately. I can't even get a PhD here probably. And it is too bad, because I miss working. And I never thought I'd say that.

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