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6 things I learned from the corporate world

6 things I learned from the corporate world

Having done 5 internships, and changed 4 full-time jobs, I believed I have seen my fair bit of the inner workings of the corporate world and also the types of characters within it. The corporate world is an extremely tricky place. You not only have to please your boss, but you also have to show that you are well-liked by your peers. You not only have to collaborate well with others, but you also have to set boundaries to protect yourself. How then is one able to get ahead in the corporate world if all these are not taught in school?

Sadly, we all have to go through it the hard way and experience for ourselves. The best we can do is to learn from family members, mentors, or friends on how to avoid the mistakes that were made. But even so, each circumstance is unique to itself.

Hence, this prompted me to write the 6 things I learned from the corporate world that are not the usual “Work Hard, Work Smart, Network with Senior Managers etc”. To be clear, I am writing this based on my personal experience and this does not constitute the opinion of the masses.

In no particular order of importance:

A. Give people a way out

Most people have heard about the recent saga between how former maid Parti Liyani was acquitted of stealing from Changi Airport Group chairman’s family. It wasn’t a pleasant case, to be honest. The sequence of events exposed questions about inequality and access to justice in Singapore.

This brings me to the point of giving people a way out. There are many cases in the working place where employees, peers or colleagues make mistakes and we are too quick to judge. I have seen superiors scolding their subordinates just because they are “not in a good mood” and I have seen colleagues, scolding juniors just because certain minor things were not done according to their standards. This put unnecessary stress on the particular worker and may even cause his or her morale to dwindle.

However, we often fail to remember is that many of our peers and colleagues could be facing a tough time in their life. They could be worrying about a particular family member battling an illness, which causes them unnecessary stress in their day-to-day life. Or they may be worried about their financial position because one of their spouses has just lost their job. We really do not know as most people will not share what is going on with their life with us.

Hence, I believe in giving people a way out especially if the mistake made is not grave (if it is grave and has severe consequences to the company, yes, you should drive your point home so that he or she does not make the same mistake again). After all, we work to earn a living and give our family a comfortable life and we should be more mindful about what others are going through in their lives too.

Source: Star Tribune

B. Help others and do not expect anything

I strongly believe in this one. We were all taught to “survive” in the corporate world and that it is a zero-sum game. Eg, if you were to get promoted, it means I will not be promoted. And in the process, we stopped being kinder to people around us.

Most people think that they should receive help first before they can give. But I beg to differ. It should be the other way around. I remember one of my closest friends telling me: “You should help others because if you don’t, who will help them?”.

Another of my mentor told me this: “Try helping others when you have made it in life as surely you will”.

I am of the view that it is always good to help others and not expect anything in return because you believe in abundance.

By helping people, you are relying on your experience and sharing with them what works and what do not. You are helping them to avoid the mistakes that you made (which can be costly) and consolidating your knowledge. This will go a long way as people will remember your graciousness and will be grateful for this.

Source: Unsplash

C. Show results

This is an important one in the corporate world. Previously, I wrote about some of the best advice from a 37 year old Private Real Estate Managing Director, and one of it includes showing results. By showing results I mean showing significant achievements that helped your firm to generate a considerate amount of revenue or by saving huge sums of costs.

Once you show results to your bosses, big bosses, and peers, you build up your credibility in the firm. People are not able to fault you for petty things if you are able to show results. It also shows that you’ve got what it takes to achieve big things in your workplace.

By showing results, you also gain more bargaining power if you were to talk to your boss about your increment / promotion / bonus.

D. Never be greedy

I’ve seen professionals in the workforce wanting too much and asking too much from their employers. It seemed to me that even with their exorbitant salaries, it is still not enough. This could actually be detrimental for them as a study showed that greedier people struggled to learn from their mistakes and take on higher risks. This could backfire in their career in the later stage of their lives.

E. Protect yourself / set boundaries

Too often, we have met a boss or a superior who doesn’t care about your personal well-being at the expense of his or her goals. He could be dedicated to his job for life, but that doesn’t mean that he should expect the same of you. Very often, such bosses rely too much on their subordinates that when they are on leave, they are unable to function.

Learn how to protect yourself and say no even if it feels uncomfortable. Your mental health and well-being is even more important than taking that call or answering that email on your off-days. I have experienced this on many occasions previously where a former boss of mine will “casually” check in on me on the weekends by asking me “How are you doing?” and then asking me if I can look at a particular issue.

For the first few times, it is perfectly okay to help especially if it is extremely urgent. However, once this becomes a habit, you have to set some boundaries and let them know that it is NOT okay for them to bother you on your off-days for seemingly unimportant matters.

By setting boundaries, you are also setting yourself up for success and let others know that your time with family and for yourself is as important (or even more important I would argue) than work matters.

Source: Unsplash

F. There is no loyalty to your workplace. Only loyalty to family and health

Sorry human resources personnel, hiring managers, and senior professionals, you are not going to like this. With the young being increasing educated and spoilt for choices, it is easy to leave a toxic workplace in pursuit for a better one.

We are not bound by one single workplace or decision anymore.

Many times, the young are overworked and underpaid, leading to increasing mental health issues which is hard to talk about in the current society.

We all are brought to think that if we work hard and work smart, we will get what we rightfully deserve. Unfortunately, the workplace is not so straightforward. Based on another financial blogger, Financial Samurai, the less your boss can pay you, the better he or she looks.

Hence, if a toxic job is affecting your family relationships and health, it is best to reconsider whether you should stay in your current workplace for the near to mid term. I still think that there are a million ways to make money and life is too short to be stuck in a crappy job or with a toxic boss who only thinks for himself.

Once your health takes a toll on you, it is hard to reverse it back. This is also why I quickly learned that I need to start insulating my income streams and building up my investment portfolio in case one day I decide to leave the corporate world.

What are some of the things that you have learned from the corporate world? Are you also diversifying your income streams so that you can leave the rat race like me?

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