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4 College Digital Habits to Ditch in the Workplace

4 College Digital Habits to Ditch in the Workplace

You’ve graduated and landed the job of your dreams! Your first job after college is an important one: it starts building your career credibility, network, base salary, and experience. But with so many experienced colleagues, how can a fresh graduate show their authority and make sure that they are taken seriously? Digital habits matter – what made sense in college may no longer be the best way to operate at work. Here are a few habits to ditch (quickly) when you enter the workplace:

1. Pinging your co-workers after working hours or when their status is set to “do not disturb” or “unavailable”.

Intra-office chat programs are all the rage at work these days – they’re a great way to reach out to your colleagues who are online but in another geographical area or office location in real-time. But initiating a chat session with your boss or teammates after hours for anything that is not urgent is a no-no. If people in your time zone are online before or after work it’s probably because they have work they need to get done, and if their status is set to “do not disturb” they may be presenting at a meeting or trying to finish up something that takes concentration. They’re not looking to chat or engage with you, and instant messaging them during these times when there isn’t an emergency can make you look juvenile and inexperienced. Just don’t do it – try another less intrusive mode of communication like email if you need to reach out right then.

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2. Sending long and / or emotional emails.

One way to increase your authority immediately? Write short emails. In fact, if you can’t make your point in fewer than three to four sentences, consider replying with: “Let’s discuss.” Study the way your boss responds to email and copy it. Don’t feel you need to over explain your decision-making processes. In fact, a concrete “No”, or “I’ll pass”, or a simple “I agree” is enough to show you’re engaged and sure of your decisions. If someone wants to know why, they’ll ask you. Worried or concerned about something that happened in the office? Don’t send an emotional email to your manager. It’s hard to control tone and perception in email, and the last thing you want is for your boss to read an email and think that you are a stress case (or worse, a nut case). In those situations, wait for your next one-on-one meeting and have a discussion with your manager where you can provide context and reflection when you bring up your concerns.

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3. Sharing everything on social media.

Had the best date of your life? Called in sick last Friday to start the weekend early? Drank a little too much at the bar with your girlfriends last night? These sorts of things may have been fun to share on Facebook and Twitter when you were in college, but now that you are employed you may want to think twice. Do you really want your boss to know every last detail of your life outside of work? While we’d all like to think that the assessment of our professional performance and worthiness for advancement is completely based on merit the truth is perception is reality, and what happens on the weekends may end up influencing your image at work if you share every last detail on social media.

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4.Text Speak, Stickers and Emoticons in office communications.

You may be able to get away with the occasional smiley face or “HEHE” but if your presentations and emails are filled with text speak terms like “coz”, “l8r” or “dat”, the ‘higher ups’ are going to question your maturity level. The same goes for stickers or emoticons. A thumbs up or smiley face may make sense as an affirmation after a quick instant message exchange, but stickers littered throughout all your communication can be a huge red flag and mark you as a workplace newbie. Communicating succinctly, eloquently and professionally with words is one way to showcase your potential without highlighting your lack of experience.

Work is different than college; don’t expect the digital communication norms to be the same. Even if you lack experience, you can still build an image of yourself as a competent and confident employee worthy of recognition. Drop these four habits quickly and you’ll be well on your way!

Featured photo credit: Office Hours / Tanel Teemusk via flickr.com

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Last Updated on April 9, 2020

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common types of leadership and how you can determine which works best for you.

5 Types of Leadership Styles

I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

The Democratic Style

The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

    The Autocratic Style

    The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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    The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

    While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

      The Transformational Style

      Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

      Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

      Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

        The Transactional Style

        Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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        The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

        The Laissez-Faire Style

        The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

        In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

        Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

        You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

        Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

        The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

        Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

        I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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        In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

        What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

        Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

        1. Context Matters

        Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

        2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

        When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

        As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

        “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

        The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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        As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

        When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

        The Way Forward

        To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

        As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

        “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

        The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

        If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

        Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

        Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

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        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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