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"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32
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Author:  Larry Simoneaux
Bio: Larry Simoneaux
Date:  June 13, 2010
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Topic category:  Other/General

Off to Work - Revisited.

Since, at the end of this year, I’m going to retire after 46 years of work, I thought I’d pass on a few observations to those of you who’ve just graduated and are about to enter the workforce.

I’d like to start out by saying that, if you’ve managed to find a job in this economy, you’ve already cleared a major hurdle and deserve congratulations for that one thing alone.

Still, you’re probably wondering what’s waiting for you. You’re probably also wondering what might help you hold onto your newly found position and, perhaps, even advance within the ranks.

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions that you might find useful over the next 40 or so years:

  • In every organzation there’s someone whose title has absolutely nothing to do with what they’re actually doing which is to get things done on budget, on time, the right way, and with as little fuss as possible. Find that person and treat him/her as your personal Yoda.

  • Practice the following phrase: “I screwed up.” Whenever you admit to screwing up, everyone can then move on to what is sometimes, in large organizations, treated as a lesser matter, i.e. - fixing things. Still, it doesn’t hurt to be known as someone who’s willing to take the heat for a mistake.

  • Addendum to the above: Try keeping mistakes to a minimum because, if you find yourself saying “I screwed up” on a regular basis, you may be in the wrong line of work. For example, the word “Ooops!” doesn’t fit well in careers involving surgery, flying airliners, or handling heavy equipment.

  • Any large, difficult project can be broken down into a lot of smaller projects. Do understand, however, that some of those smaller projects are going to be tough to crack. Try to become known as someone who’s as willing to tackle the tough ones as the easy ones.

  • Whenever you’re asked why things have been going well in your department, use the pronoun “we” as frequently as possible. Sticking too many “I’s” into the explanation will come back to haunt you.

  • There are still three types of workers in any organization. One type learns by watching others. One type learns by reading manuals. The third type learns by sticking the screwdriver into the electrical outlet to see what happens. You can't change the third type no matter how hard you try.

  • Clocks are placed on walls to let you know the time of day. They should not be used to count down the minutes (hours?) left before you can leave. Doing such gets noticed quickly.

  • Keep reports simple, direct, and to the point. Avoid “fuzzy, feel good” language. Making nouns into verbs or using buzzwords is the hallmark of a fatuous, inane bureaucratic twit. What the hell is “partnering” anyway? And, if you need “synergies” in order to reach “closure” so as to feel “empowered,” you’re beyond redemption.

  • Visiting sales reps are there to help you. Your job is to find the good ones. Hint: they’re never pushy or aggressive. They are, however, persistent because they know their product is darned good. Once you find the good ones, stick with them. They can save your butt in a pinch.

  • Clean the coffee pot every now and then. You’ll be treated thereafter as a minor deity.

  • When you’re talking on the phone, smile. Trust me, the person on the other end can see it.

  • If something might be misunderstood, e-mails make it a virtual certainty that they will be. If it’s important, do it the old-fashioned way. Pick up the phone or get face-to-face with the person with whom you need to communicate. It will save you a lot of trouble.

  • Donuts for the folks on the production line can get things moving faster than any memo you might write can. If things are really late and need to move “now,” think maple bars.

  • If you find that you’re not happy at work and want to know what would be the best job in the world, think of what you like to do when you’re away from work and find a way to make that pay. It’s been done before.

    Hope these help.

    Now, go set the world on fire.

    Larry Simoneaux

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    Biography - Larry Simoneaux

    Larry Simoneaux is a regular columnist for The Everett Herald in Washington state. He is a retired ship driver for the US Navy and NOAA.

    Read other commentaries by Larry Simoneaux.

    Copyright © 2010 by Larry Simoneaux
    All Rights Reserved.

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