Nobody shows up at work dressed like the characters on Mad Men anymore. While some companies maintain a strict dress code of boring and uncomfortable G2000-style officewear, others encourage their workers to come in their pyjamas after emerging from their on-site sleep pods.
Whether your boss wants you to call him by his first name or expects you to kiss his feet when he enters the room, there are some taboos that should be avoided at all offices, no matter how liberal—such as the following.
Getting involved with a coworker is completely fine—so long as one or both of you intends to leave the company within a year or two. Sure, many Singaporeans meet their spouses at work, and a great many continue to work together for many years. But these are the people whose relationships have worked out. We don’t mean to get all cynical on you, but if your relationship runs into a road block or you decide to call it quits, it’s going to affect how you’re appraised at work.
I’ve seen it happen multiple times to colleagues, and each time their bosses trash talked them behind their backs. One former colleague was even threatened about being fired when an office relationship didn’t work out. No matter how liberal your bosses seem, getting involved with someone in the same company, someone they all know, is going to make it almost impossible for them to view the matter objectively and at a distance, unless both you and your partner are very, very discrete.
And besides, do you really want your boss to know the real reason you suddenly took a week off work in the middle of peak season?
Being too gossipy
It doesn’t matter whether your boss acts like he’s your friend or prefers if you address him as Your Highness. It doesn’t matter if your coworkers are a bunch of backstabbing dogs or if everyone’s a real team.
No matter what the dynamics at your workplace, being gossipy never reflects well on you. In a best case scenario, your bosses and colleagues just write you off as a loose-lipped auntie. In a worst case scenario, you might even be fired for sewing discord amongst your colleagues.
It can be tempting to trash talk other colleagues or always disseminate the latest scoop, especially when everyone is doing it. At one of my previous jobs, employees in a different department used to ostracise a colleague they didn’t like, going so far as to urge new employees to pick sides.
In fact, at some workplaces, it can seem like there would be nothing to talk about otherwise. Still, resist the urge, and refrain from commenting on others or spreading rumours. Yes, it can get vicious, but try to remain neutral.
You’ll not only look better at work and be spared from having to pick sides when colleagues segue off into cliques, but might even find you’re performing better at work without the added distraction.
We can’t all be rocket scientists, and especially if you’re new on the job or are taking on new responsibilities, you can expect a steep learning curve. But we all know those employees who even after many years on the job are hopelessly incompetent, not because there’s something wrong with their brains but simply because they haven’t picked up on feedback and have no desire to improve.
Even those in middle and upper management aren’t exempt from incompetence, particularly in family businesses. While I’ve had bosses who were frightfully good at what they did, I’ve also had one or two who had no idea what was going on half the time despite having been in the business for 10 or 20 years, and who relied on their subordinates to do all the work.
Unless you’re about to marry into the family that owns your company, you’d better make sure you gain at least a decent level of competence. Once you get a reputation as that guy who completely sucks at his job, it’s hard to dig yourself out of that hole.
Have you ever committed any of the above faux pas? Tell us about your experiences in the comments!
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