5 Effective Work Habits for Graduates

When entering the working world as a fresh graduate, you’re eager and excited to showcase your new skills in order to prove yourself amongst your peers. Sometimes, it is easy to fall into the trap of wanting to do too much too soon and as a result, you may go over the top with what you show to your new employers and colleagues.

Whilst such eagerness can be a refreshing within the working environment, you might end up at a point where you become overwhelmed with tasks and assessments and end up failing, which is not the result you wanted. Below are 5 key traits for new you to practice and develop to transition into the working world.

1. Respect

Respect can appear to be easy to practice well, because it’s straightforward. However most individuals take it as a given. We have heard it often enough that we should be respectful to people, regardless of rank or designation. Ideally it is an act of reciprocity, when you are nice and respectful towards others, they would return in kind and help you when needed. This is especially important when entering a new organisation, seeing as you would never know what assistance you would require from your colleagues.

Being respectful to all your new colleagues is done out of common courtesy, especially when environments can become stressful and overwhelming. Being professional at all times increases the chances of individuals wanting you to work more with them and assist you when needed.

2. Diligence

Individuals often think that working hard is having to do as much work as possible. This is not true. In the situation of “working hard” there are contributing factors to keeping one working effectively. Self-motivation is a key component; as the old saying goes – if you’re standing still, you’re going backwards. The key to being diligent is to give each task 100%. You should also always look to improve on your skills, even as a graduate, and through due diligence, you will effectively learn what new skills you might need to acquire, or areas for improvement. Doing so helps to increase your value not only to yourself, but to your potential employers. (Doing homework and extra research on an area of focus also never hurts).

3. Focus

Sometimes when entering your new workplace, you are so eager to show everyone what you have learnt that you could overwhelm yourself by volunteering to assist with any task or project. Understanding what your job scope is and focusing on main tasks is vital. While you may think that you are showing initiative, promising to assist someone and then failing to complete the job due to lack of time or other external factors, will only reflect on you negatively. Maintaining a clear sense of professionalism and direction is important. Be aware of your limitations – focus on the current task at hand, deliver it and then move on to what else you can do next.

4. Positivity

Maintaining a strong level of positivity is not always an easy task, especially when faced with a challenge or under stress. For example, when your manager hands you a new project and expects you to work on it immediately, while you are in the midst of finishing another. It is not always easy to keep yourself balanced and often, you could fall into a slump which will probably manifest itself in your work and/ or appearance, causing others to be frustrated and annoyed.

Experiencing negative emotions being delivered in the form of criticism or rejection makes you stressed. Your body will shut down and your mind will switch to your conflict and defense mechanisms. As a result, you perceive situations as being worse than they really are. Being positive on the other hand, increases your communicative, collaborative and trust skills in others. Moreover, positive interactions increase expansive thought and actions.

On average, we need 3-5 positive interactions for every negative exchange that we have. In the workplace, have interactions and seek feedback about what is working effectively. As a new hire, people tend to be more understanding and forthcoming, and this can be used to your advantage, but only if you are proactive and remain positive.

5. Communicate

Having clear and open communication is effective in the process of helping to build strong working relationships with your colleagues. Strong communicators have the positive ability to give and receive criticism. It is always important to be able to express yourself whilst being able to listen to the ideas and opinions of others. Your appetite for learning should not diminish upon graduating – ask relevant questions. Ensure that when you are asking questions or seeking clarity with a problematic task that you offer what you think is a possible solution as well. If you see that something is not working, bring it to your manager’s attention but do not go ahead without having a series of well researched and analysed recommendations. This shows you’re proactive and you’re willing to learn even if the solution is not the right one. People are more likely to help you when they see that you have made a conscious effort, rather than wait to be spoon-fed answers.

It is clear that entering the working world is no easy task. However, consider these 5 points when taking that first step. Understand what is expected of you and learn to actively practice these points. There will be more along the way as you learn to adapt to your new company and work environment, but always be mindful when learning to practice a series of good work habits.

P.S. And always be on time.

“Better three hours too soon, than one minute too late” – William Shakespeare

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