There’s a new workplace etiquette for the new millennium, and, no surprise, it’s all about transparency and authenticity.
The new etiquette is driven by the fact that young people who grew up online don’t know how to operate any other way except transparently. The good news is this means they have great social skills; the bad news is they have no idea that they’re breaking all the old rules.
Here a list tips to help people who aren’t used to living an authentic, transparent work life flourish under the new rules.
1. Forget the exit interview.
An exit interview won’t help you, and it’ll probably create bad will. If you have people to thank when you leave a job, do it at lunch. If you have ideas for how to improve the company, offer to consult. Of course the company will decline, because they don’t care. Otherwise you wouldn’t be quitting, right?
Stop focusing on the exit interview and focus on how to quit like a pro. When you get a new job, your old boss is part of your new network. It’s up to you to make sure that parting ways goes as smoothly as possible so that you can shepherd this person into your network of supporters.
2. Don’t ask for time off, just take it.
When you need to leave work for a few hours or a few days, you don’t need to ask for permission — you’re an adult, after all. Make sure your work is in good order and send an email to the relevant people letting them know you’ll be gone.
This will seem discourteous to older people, who expect you to ask rather than tell. So be sure to give a reason why you’re cutting out. People like to know they matter and where they stand.
3. Keep your headphones on at work.
If you use social media tools, you’re probably good at connecting with people and navigating office politics — good enough that spending all day at work with headphones on won’t hinder you.
If you don’t know what what social media tools are, then you’re probably not innately good at making connections and need to take those headphones off before you’re crushed by office politics.
4. Say no to video résumés.
This is one of the dumbest recruiting trends ever.
Any human resources person in their right mind would hate video résumés. If there’s a stack of 100 paper résumés, the hiring manager will spend 10 seconds on each to decide which ones belong in the garbage. So how annoying is it that it takes 10 seconds just to launch a video résumé?
And it’s not just that they’re totally inefficient. Video résumés open up HR departments to a whole new level of discrimination accusations. There’s a reason why newscasters are all good-looking — it’s because we favor the good-looking on-screen. So if you don’t get hit on every time you step into a bar, forget about the video résumé. You probably look better on paper.
5. Invite your CEO to be a friend on Facebook.
That’s right, Facebook is for everyone now. And although the youngest members of the workforce are a little worried that having the adults there will ruin things, adults are psyched to be there. No one wants to miss out on all the fun.
So there’s a good chance that your CEO is registered, and it’s likely that she’ll really want to hear from you about what to do on Facebook, since she surely has no clue.
6. Do reconnaissance on your probable boss.
This tip comes from 20-something Hannah Seligson, whose book, “New Girl on the Job: Advice from the Trenches,” gives great tips on getting through the first years of work — most of which comes down to etiquette.
Seligson recommends you find out all the dirt you can about your future employer, because the best gauge of how a company will treat you is how it treated other employees. So asking people directly is fine.
Remember that it’s often the boss who makes the biggest difference in the workplace, so try using LinkedIn to search for someone who had the job you’re interviewing for. Former employees will always give you the most candid comments.
7. Don’t try to improve a coworker.
If you work with a jerk, just avoid him. We already know from dozens of studies that thinking you can change someone doesn’t really work.
Companies know that getting rid of difficult employees isn’t worth the cost and headache, too. So if the jerk isn’t moving and the company isn’t moving, you need to get moving with your job hunt.
8. Don’t blog under a pseudonym.
It’s enticing to hide your name when you blog, because you don’t want to get fired, or harassed, or held accountable at work for the opinions you have at home. But the truth is that the majority of adults who blog are doing it for business reasons.
Writing a blog that people can actually find among 77 million blogs is very time-consuming. It’s a big commitment to write about what you know on a single topic, but blogging will help your career a lot. So why bother doing it if you’re not going to take credit for it where it matters most — with potential employers who haven’t met you?
9. Call people on the weekend for work.
With the Blackberry going where work has never gone before, it’s no surprise that the lines between work and not-work are blurring. The people who grew up being super-connected don’t differentiate between the workweek and the weekend, so they don’t mind working over the weekend on bits and pieces leftover from the week.
Of course, this also means that people are going home early all week long at random intervals. The result is that the weekend is fair game for phone calls.
If your coworkers don’t like being called on the weekend, they can tell you. But remind them that a flexible work schedule lets you put relationships first all the time, and a work schedule that cordons off five days a week for work and two days a week for a personal life means that the personal life takes a backseat every week of the year.
The best way to get a life is to stop being so rigid about the distinction between time for work and time for life.
10. Be nice like your job depends on it.
In fact, your job does depend on you being nice. The old days of office politics as a means of backstabbing are dead — young people are bringing their team-player, I’m-competing-against-my-best-self mentality from their self-esteem-centric homes into the workplace, and there’s nothing you can do except be nice back.
Anyway, the truth is that the most likable people get promoted, so this is an instance where following the unwritten rules really can save your career.