Asking For a Friend | Chapter 39
Advice from Babe to Babe
The BWH Team chimes in for this week’s chapter of Asking For a Friend with sound advice on how to assert yourself as the youngest in your office, following HR procedure in a small company, and how to overcome just being a little uninspired in your role. Read up and ask away, babes!
Do your job, own your accomplishments and let people get over whatever weird age prejudices they have on their own. Your work will speak for itself!
To quote what our editor Heather often says, “There is no political substitute for putting your head down and working hard.” Unfortunately, younger employees deal with doubts from seasoned professionals quite often, but in my experience, this doubt quickly disappears if you do your job and do it well. Know what’s expected of you, learn as much as you can about the inner workings of your department/company, ask for help when needed (Side tip: keep a living document of your questions and the answers you get. That way, if the issue comes up again, you can refer to the document instead of asking numerous times) and put in your best work each day.
Don’t focus on asserting yourself, but rather putting your best work forward. It can feel intimidating when you’re the youngest person in the room, but your work will prove why you deserve to be there. In my experience, there has always been a lot to learn from older coworkers (both good and bad). Take this as an opportunity to ask advice and questions.
Schedule a planning morning into next week’s agenda and make a list of all the projects you wanted to tackle when you started in your position. Break those down into short- and long-term timelines, and make time to meet with a supervisor or mentor to ask how you can get them done. It’s easy to get lost in a routine, but reminding ourselves of our own ambitions can jumpstart any workday and get new ideas and excitement flowing.
I realize this is a luxury not everyone has the resources to do, but traveling always helps me when I’m stuck in a rut and need a refresh. I’m not implying you need to plan a two-week getaway to Europe—a simple day or weekend trip to a neighboring city to unplug, turn off your mind from work and do some exploring always helps to reenergize and reinspire me to jump back into work with a clean slate and a fresh mindset.
Take an hour or two per week to research networking events, webinars, panels, seminars and people to meet for coffee or lunch in your community who align with your role or industry, and commit to attending at least one event per month—more if your schedule permits. Doing so will give you opportunities to discover new topics, trends, ideas, etc. that can help you go into work motivated, refreshed and energized to bring new material to the table. I’m an advocate for taking advantage of personal days. Use the time off to unplug, get outdoors and be around people who bring out the best in you. Sometimes the best way to foster new ideas is to first forget about the topic altogether and allow your brain to relax.
Yikes. This is tricky and can very easily happen in small, tight-knit startup environments. I’m not sure what the problem you’re referring to is, but hopefully the HR representative will be professional enough to separate their friendship and personal feelings with other staff members in order to properly do their job and resolve the situation(s). If you’re finding that’s not the case, I’d definitely encourage you to speak with your supervisor about it openly and honestly.
Obviously this is not OK, as HR should try to remain as neutral as possible. You should be able to speak to your HR in confidence to address the problem. It might help, also, to take a step back and look at the situation as just a group of coworkers and take it from there. Many small businesses and startups don’t have a specific HR person, so situations like this often come up. Think about how you would approach this if you didn’t have an HR staff member in your office.
Document everything and follow procedure. Then—follow procedure. You have to go through the right channels and have them fail you before you can complain that the proper channels don’t work.
Until Next Week,
—THE BWH ADVICE GURUS
Asking for a Friend is Babes Who Hustle's weekly advice column that asks and answers the work-related questions on all of our minds. Looking for advice and guidance? Hit us with all of your questions below and stay tuned for next Wednesday's edition!