When it comes to our jobs, there are lots of rules that we’re told to abide by but you know what, some rules were meant to be broken especially if they can lead to career progression. We ask HR experts to tell us what career myths we should be breaking to achieve workplace happiness:
It used to be frowned upon if you talked about how much work you’d done, much less highlight your achievements. Doing so was often seen as bragging but Josh Border, associate director of sales and marketing, HR and secretarial support at Randstad Singapore, says it’s perfectly fine to be proud of a job well done, as long as you don’t come across as gloating.
One way to do it: “Acknowledging others for their input or joint efforts is a good way to claim credit while still recognising and motivating those around you,” he says.
Sher-Li Torrey, career coach and founder of mumpreneur network Mums@Work, adds: “It’s important to combine substance with self-promotion. If you have put in effort to get a project going, you should talk about your contribution to its success.”
Traditional Asian values place a high emphasis on hierarchy, so people tend to defer to their bosses – even if they disagree.
Josh says open and honest communication is needed, so that any concerns can be discussed. You should be able to tell your boss if you’re overburdened, if you’re uncomfortable with a task or if you’re running into problems with a project.
Far from making you look incompetent, bosses appreciate staff who can add value to the organisation. “It’s fine to raise problems to your bosses, but you have to make it clear you have thought through those issues in detail and offer possible solutions,” says Josh.
When you speak to your supervisor, suggest an alternative solution if you can, adds Sher-Li. Try this: Word your request so it presents a win-win situation for both you and your supervisor – it’s more likely to be accepted that way.
Being able to express your opinions makes you stand out in your manager’s eyes – if you do it correctly. “Make sure your opinions are objective and constructive,” advises Josh. “Senior management and leaders appreciate open feedback – and you should not be afraid to express your thoughts, especially if you think they can influence or bring about positive changes.”
“Being friends with your workmates encourages better collaboration, as people are more inclined to help a friend than an acquaintance,” says Josh. So long as there’s a common understanding that everyone remains professional when it comes to work.
Having a good relationship with your colleagues promotes teamwork and provides an outlet for you to discuss issues, problems and challenges at work – leading to more success. It doesn’t mean that you need to give your team a play-by-play of how your weekend went or even have weekly group dinners together.
It can be a little tricky attempting to break this rule. Whether you work after hours or not depends on the circumstances and the industry you work in, says Josh.
In advertising, media, public relations and creative agencies, staying late may be required if you have a time-sensitive project. However, in companies with a standard 8-to-5 work day, you may appear inefficient if you are constantly staying behind to complete your work long after your colleagues have headed home.
“If you are able to deliver on your projects and meet all your deadlines within standard working hours, you should not feel obligated to stay back just because everyone is doing so,” advises Josh.
“However, if there is a project that requires everyone to put in extra hours as a team in order to see it to completion, do so to show that you are a team player.”
You want to stay on top of your work, and the ease of being connected 24/7 makes it a breeze to thumb through your e-mail wherever you are. But does it help your job performance?
Josh says, “You should not feel obligated to check or reply to e-mails outside of working hours unless you are in a job that requires you to be on standby 24/7.”
You should disconnect from your inbox after work. “It not only lets you recharge, you can give your loved ones the attention they deserve,” he adds.
And really, if there’s something urgent that needs your immediate attention at night, your bosses and coworkers can always call you.
It could be something as simple as replying to a Whatsapp message or replying to e-mail, to sitting in front of your computer for a stretch to complete your work. All of it is a worrying trend.
“It defeats the very purpose of a holiday – when you should be taking a much deserved break, and/or spending time with family, friends and loved ones,” says Josh. Not being able to leave your work worries behind when you’re on vacation means you could get burnt out quickly, which does no favours for your career.
Acknowledging that you made a mistake doesn’t make you look incompetent. “In fact, regardless of your position in the organisation, the ability to admit your mistakes shows strength rather than weakness,” says Josh. “It takes courage to admit your mistakes. And people will appreciate your honesty and humility – and be more empathetic than critical.”
Although, you should make a conscious effort not to repeat the error. That’s the fastest way to lose credibility with your colleagues.
Some people think keeping their heads down and working within their job scope is enough to make an impact at work. They couldn’t be more wrong. “Going above and beyond in your role is a surefire way to stand out. If you are looking for quick career advancement and promotion in a competitive work environment, you would be well served in doing more than the basic requirements of the role,” says Josh.
If you’re not happy about something and its making things progress slowly at work, don’t feel like you have to hide it from your bosses. Your fear of being labelled difficult or uncooperative is unwarranted if what you’re facing really is holding the company back.
Ultimately, if you can identify issues that are inefficient for the organisation and possibly suggest some workarounds then at the end of the day, you’re adding value to your team – that’s an asset, not a liability.
Text: Kayce Teo, HerWorld / Additional reporting: Natalya Molok