It is well known that essentially all workplaces have a set of universal unwritten rules which will help you to succeed. To assuage the stress of entering into a new job or position, take comfort in knowing that you are in control of your own future and this future can be made better if you follow these policies.
Rule #1 – You’re always better asking forgiveness than permission.
When you are given your chance to do some research and advance your career, it’s better to do it and then spend time explaining what you did rather than to forgo this opportunity because you might not receive everyone’s blessing. It’s always better to have something of your own achievement in your back pocket, done and ready to be shown to others. This puts you in the active position rather than having to rely impotently on the kindness of others. And, going one step further, having your own research results gives you some currency with which to bargain. Having no research results means perhaps that you haven’t irritated someone in the short run, but that you’ve short-changed yourself in the long run.
Rule #2 – Go for the early, fast and easy hits, rather than going for something that is long term.
In the long run we’re all dead. And, in a corporation you may be dead a lot faster than you think. With this in mind, it’s better to go out with stuff in your pocket to show to the outside world. Small, simple experiments will serve you better than longer term ones. It’s just a matter of the way the world works. Your next employer will be more interested in what you accomplished, the experiments you ran, the findings you made, rather than in your grand dreams. You should aim for tangibles to have and to hold rather than focusing on never-to-be-achieved dreams in a tomorrow that may not come.
Rule #3 – Simple is better.
You want to be as simple as possible when talking about what you have done and what you see for the future. When you start your career by presenting results, make sure that you have simple-to-understand findings. Simple is not only good, it’s really the only way to do it. There’s a reason for this. You are trying to establish your reputation. You’re likely not to know as much as the other people in the room. So, be simple and clear because you’re just starting. You should be modest.
Rule #4 – Learn to shut up.
As you create your own world in a company, recognize that you are in the presence of other individuals with similar needs. People are insecure, nervous, and worried about how they appear. Give them a chance to talk about their vision. It’s not about you, it’s about your future. And, to some degree it’s about how you share your future with others and make them part of your team. It’s important to make room in your future for other people. Keep quiet after you begin talking, and see how quickly the others rush in to help you. The sound of a person’s voice is the sweetest melody they’ve ever heard.
These rules have helped guide me into becoming the researcher and professional I am today. In any case, it is hard to start off, to be new. These rules will make the transitions you encounter throughout your professional life a little smoother and more enjoyable for both yourself and your colleagues.
This post is an excerpt of Howard Moskowitz’s professional development book, You!