The do's and don'ts at work

by César SantosAug 11th, 20206 min read
Also available in: Spanish

During my years of experience I have noticed different facets at work that I believe are worth sharing. This list includes a variety of things from small to massive decisions organized by what you should or shouldn't do.

The DO's at work

Be thankful of your job

This doesn't mean giving gifts to everybody, or kissing bosses hands. This means to give the best of you on your tasks and responsibilities. To pay attention to your assignments. To be on time for meetings. To deliver things on time.

Share your thoughts

Don't be just a "maker" following instructions.

Provide as much feedback as you can. Speak up when you see something that could be done better in favor of improving the quality of the product.

In regard to teamwork and personality; express your ideas and listen to theirs in order to find a common ground where both can coexist. At the end you are working together for a larger purpose, don't take things personal.

Be humble

No matter how much experience you have in a field, there are always going to be opportunities to learn new things by listening to others. Learn to listen!

Learn constantly

Aside from learning from your daily work and teammates; keep learning new things that might interested you. There are always new things to learn, and if something is really catching your attention, make the effort to expand more on it. Also, check with your company for any learning benefits they could offer you (certifications, online memberships, conferences, etc).

Make friends, but keep working

You're not a robot to fully work 9h straight daily. Get a few minutes to talk about "nothing". About a movie, weekend plans, politics, dogs, or whatever. But don't let your friendship take over your job, you need to be responsible regardless.

Being friend to your boss or manager isn't the way to be a better employee. See more on "Don't play favoritism" section.

Build relationships

Keep in contact with coworkers (or ex-coworkers) whom you appreciate their work. This way you would increase your chances to find better job opportunities in the future.

Keep an eye on better opportunities

The market is constantly changing, so keep an eye on it. The best time to do interviews is when you're stable in your current job because:

  • There is no pressure on finding a job
  • You can practice/polish your interview skills
  • You can evaluate if your current work conditions are fair or not

The DON'Ts at work

Don't play favoritism

If you're an employee, develop a reputation that represents you and your capabilities, not just for having friends in high places. Keep growing professionally, start helping your teammates if you can. Share your experience with others and take bigger responsibilities step by step.

If you're a boss, don't let your friendship cloud your decisions. If somebody is telling you that your friend is not working properly or is being lazy or is holding back the team's speed, be objective, investigate, evaluate and take real action on the matter.

This doesn't mean you can't be friends with your boss, in fact, it's perfect (see "Build relationships" section); but taking advantage of that friendship at work is deplorable.

Favoritism is not how you or your friends grow professionally.

Don't overwork

The DO's section covered some things you should do to help the company be better. But on the other hand, don't let your job run your life. Don't work 14 hours day. Don't sacrifice your personal time for the company. Obviously there are going to be exceptions where we will need to work extra time, but it must be the exception not the rule.

If you see this exception becomes the "default", raise your concerns to your boss and see if it could be improved. If not, find another company and leave as fast as you can. A company that does not respect employees' personal time is not worth your commitment.

Extra work must be the exception, not the rule.

Don't get married to your company

Don't get stuck in a confort zone. Yes, you might feel ok in your current job and position and salary, but it does not mean it's the best thing you could be doing (see "Keep an eye on better opportunities" section).

Don't stay too long in the same company doing exactly the same tasks for years or working on some really specific business model, or private software. Even when you are growing pretty well within that company, it could be extremely hard to find better opportunities outside of that company because no one else knows what that experience is about.

Besides, you might feel happy with your job, and your company with you; but things could happen (like a pandemic or a recession!) and if the company has to let people go, they are not going to consider how many late nights you worked or how much sacrifice and effort you gave for them. At the end, everything is about business and money.

Lastly, don't change companies every 2 months!

Unless you're extremely unhappy with your job, or an unforeseeable circumstance happened, you shouldn't resign it after just a few months of having started. You have to let the relationship between you and your job grow enough where you can bring some value to the company, and the company could help you get some experience.

There are some considerations to be cautious about when interviewing someone that has changed his/her job so many times in a considerable short period. Of course there are valid exceptions, ex: familiar matters, freelance workers; but the following are some points to be be curious about when interviewing those who are not the exception:

  • Do they change jobs that often only driven by better salaries?
  • Do they run away from challenges?
  • Do they have troubles working on teams?
  • Would they run away that fast from us too?
  • Is it worth to spend time interviewing (and on-boarding) them if they might resign really quick?

Keep in mind that your historial goes with you everywhere you go, and it's one of the first things companies look at when considering you as a candidate, so try to keep a good presentation card in regard of your previous job experiences. Finally, obviously find a place where you enjoy working on, a place that let you be yourself and help you grow personally and professionally.