How to Earn Respect in the Office When You're the Least Experienced One There
You know your self-worth and are confident in your ability to do good work. Maybe you'd even like to implement changes in your office in order to make it a more efficient and productive operation. There’s just one problem: Your more tenured colleagues dismiss your ideas and give you busy work every chance they get. Just because you’re the least experienced in the room, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have any answers or that you should get stuck doing only mundane, tedious tasks. Like anyone else, you deserve to be heard.
Unfortunately, sometimes your go-getting attitude comes off as impatient, and your ambition comes off as greed, particularly if you’re the new person trying to suggest new ways of doing things to a team of veteran professionals.
But should you just shelf your innovative ideas? No way! It doesn’t matter if you have less experience or if you’re the youngest one on the team, you deserve to be respected and not labeled demanding or entitled every time you have a suggestion.
There are three things that you can start doing right now to prove your value:
1. Offer to Help With Others’ Workload
If you feel as though the work being assigned to you isn’t allowing you to shine, or if it’s a far cry from what you believe you were hired to do, see if you can at least have a hand on a big project that someone in your department is overseeing. This lets you prove you’re a team player, while simultaneously giving you the chance to gain new experiences and display your skills.
For example, if a co-worker has a big proposal due soon, offer to help gather information or draft content. If he doesn’t need help in those areas or feels like you’re not up to the challenge quite yet, that’s OK! Don’t get discouraged. Instead, ask if you could be of help by proofreading the proposal. Start out small and demonstrate your commitment to the team.
If you know where you can deliver, aim to show your colleagues that you’re capable of jumping in and rising to the occasion—no matter how insignificant that task may seem at the time.
2. Share Information and Ideas
Make one of your daily practices reading up on your industry and current trends. It doesn’t matter if you do this by following certain outlets on Twitter or subscribing to newsletters. Simply staying informed allows you to feel confident when giving input and contributing to your team. But don’t stop there: Go ahead and give your team regular updates. It might be in the form of a daily “fun fact” that you’re not sure everyone is aware of or sending out a weekly email with the top headlines. Gathering information is key to being successful, but sharing info builds both trust and credibility.
Of course, since you are the least experienced in the group, it is expected that you’ll be seeking guidance and advice from your more tenured peers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give back and contribute to the conversation as well. If you present your learnings in a way that’s useful, your co-workers will likely begin to appreciate your presence—especially if they're psyched to try that quick and easy inbox de-cluttering hack you learned over the weekend.
3. Focus on Relationships
It’s always good to have people in your corner. Focus on building relationships with your colleagues, and try to involve them in your career pursuits. Establishing workplace camaraderie takes time and effort, but if it means eventually surrounding yourself with allies and supporters who want to see you become successful, it’s worth it many times over.
Start by asking a co-worker to get coffee, then during that meeting, focus on her. Center the conversation around her experience, asking about various work experiences and future career goals. You should ask questions like “How did you get into this industry?” and “What were you doing before this current job?”
Establishing a connection with at least a couple of your co-workers will pay off for so many reasons, and best of of all, one of them may even turn into your mentor.
And having a mentor in your office is huge. This person can be your biggest advocate while helping you navigate through the first few years of your career.
Office politics can be exhausting—especially when you’re just starting out. Remember to not let small things get you down and instead, find little ways to beat the system and make a name for yourself. It’s not always about the responsibilities you’re given; it’s often about the attitude you adopt and the quality you deliver, no matter what the task. Change rarely happens overnight, so be patient. You’ll get the respect you deserve if you force yourself to earn it. Chances are, your co-workers were once in your shoes.
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