The Laws of Work

With my recent job changes, I thought it poignant to actually finish this post.

I wanted to share some guidelines that I’ve realised I tend to live my working life by. It’s true we are formed by those around us and I’ve picked up many of these tips from my bosses and coworkers over the years and feel they are not always common knowledge.

So, Jon’s guide to surviving the workplace? I sense a book deal! Anyway onward!

“I do a job, I get Paid”

Ok, I’ll admit that the first one is a little bit cheaty and isn’t wisdom from work but rather the glorious Captain Malcolm Reynolds of the Firefly class vessel Serenity. The site is called Geeklish, what do you expect?

Anyway, at first glance the rule sounds a little harsh and somewhat dismissive in that you only care about getting paid. I however would just consider it an over simplification. I do a job and I like to think I will do that job to the best of my abilities and hopefully do it well, in return I expect to be reimbursed correctly for the work that I do. A job well done is it’s own reward, but I find colleagues appreciate someone who they know will get on with the Job in hand, you will get a “reputation” for just doing the job.  Your workplace will appreciate your attitude and your continued employment will be smooth(er). Which leads me nicely to my next point…

Time vs Skillset Worth

This is one of the earliest lessons that I learned in my first “proper” job. I worked in a somewhat well known Frozen Supermarket Chain and my manager at the time Neil, imparted the following wisdom.

“You are paid for your time, people no longer work jobs that provide goods, such as a blacksmith. You need to decide what your time is worth and set your expectations and hone your skillset  accordingly”

It was a discussion about moving into a supervisory position and working my way up the retail food chain as it were. At the time, I don’t think I truly appreciated what he was trying to tell me. The take away is that for most employed people, your wage is your reimbursement for the time you give to your job. You don’t produce a product that you personally sell and profit from, your employer pays you for your time working for them

Wage = Time Reimbursement.

At 17, I worked in said supermarket with no real quantifiable skills. I had good soft skills with people but nothing on paper that would push me into a higher wage. My lack of skill set meant that there was more competition for a job of that level, which essentially was a part time Stock handler. Higher competition means the job is not as valuable to the employer. Therefore my wage was lower as the “skillset” i bought was not as valuable.

Nowadays, I thankfully command a more niche skillset as a Business Analyst for a software company. It took self learning starting on microsoft access, learning about relational databases and generally honing my skills in my own time. I was honing the skillset I needed for a career that provided a better “re-reimbursement” for my time and skills.

So, never be afraid to spend your own time learning for the path you want. A friend of mine has just started a new career/job in a field she has been talking about for well over a year. The thing that impressed her new manager the most? The fact that she had gone out of her way to sign up for a course in a field she was not qualified in a determination to learn and break into the field..

Comprehension level.

This one is a more of a warning and something everyone should be aware of, although I’ll admit we all slip. It’s particularly prevalent in a support environment but carries across all fields in my opinion.

Everyone has a different comprehension level on a given subject. Just because you understand it and it’s “easy” doesn’t mean that someone else finds it just as “easy”.

My most common example is someone who will always go to google to type a URL that they know into google rather than just typing it into the bar at the top. They just don’t understand how it works, to someone who does this is silly behaviour but to this person, this is their understanding on how it works and shouldn’t be frowned upon but rather seen as an opportunity to enhance someones experience. Sometimes all it takes is someone to explain it to you.

Smoothly this also leads to my next point…

It’s OK NOT to know

This one is almost painfully obvious once you realise it. You’re not going to know everything, and if you say you do then I’m going to give you my “doubt” face. It’s actually OK not know something but you should go and find out. Someone will know so use the available resource and find out what you need. Retaining that knowledge will increase your own confidence and also feeds back into my earlier point of the worth of your skillset.

The key point however is that you have the initiative to go and find out.

Getting it done, and getting on with what you want.

One of my favourites that has helped formed my working day came from my manager in a retail shop that constantly had edicts handed down from head office. They were always given priority for a few reasons.

First of all, you don’t necessarily know the full picture of what you’re being required to do. Secondly, if you get it done and out of the way, you can get on with what you want/need to get on with for the benefit of your own working day.

If something is handed down to you from a higher up in the chain, most times there is a good reason for this whether you agree/see the reasons why it’s needed. There’s a chain of command, (it’s the chain I go get and beat you with ’til ya understand who’s in command – More firefly – STOP IT) and that that chain may have visibility of something you don’t or want to know about.

It’s not to say everything that comes down might be correct, but do the job raising any valid concerns and everyone is happy.

Which leads me back to my original point, you do a job, you get paid. I know some of this may be painfully obvious but hopefully it might give some of you a better framing for work.

As always, Be excellent to each other.


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