How I Impress Older Coworkers

4 04 2008

Coming out of college and entering the working world wasn’t much different from the transition between high school and college. As a high school senior I was a big fish in a little pond, I was awesome…then I graduated and quickly became little fish in the big pond of college. Now as a freshman in the working world I am once again a little fish in a big pond. Being back in this situation was intimidating, until I realized that my coworkers encourage me to learn more, and most are more than willing to facilitate the process, which is a drastically different attitude than my classmates had in college.Most of my coworkers are at least 10 years older than I am, and that puts me at an advantage. You see many of them had somewhat written me off as not understanding everything that I was doing, and while this was true and I did need help (who doesn’t?), I was able to amaze them away with 2 little things I keep up with.

1. I read the Wall Street Journal everyday. It is, hands down, the best newspaper around, and no one expects someone in their early 20’s to be reading it. Reading the Journal daily allows me to stay up to date on a variety of issues ranging from business to politics. Mary and I frequently inform our co-workers and bosses of things that are occurring in the industry in which we work, from bankruptcy of competitors to new concepts, and we can do this because we read everyday. It makes us look good that we not only know this relevant information, but that we are the one’s informing our superiors of it. It also allows me to preface talking points with “there was a great article in the Wall Street Journal the other day…”

2. I Polish my work. In many cases presentation is more important than content. If you know how to make boring things look more appealing then you are less likely to get questioned. Case in point, I maintain many spreadsheets at work, I also hold all of the backup information for them. No one has questioned me for backup information on the spreadsheets that are well laid out, easy to read, and easy on the eyes. However, I have been questioned numerous times on spreadsheets where I have made a formatting error, or it just isn’t as pretty. After I provide the backup (which proves me correct) I am told to fix the formatting. The bottom line is that if it is ugly, the content matters more, and having something pretty creates the illusion of credibility. As I said in yesterday’s post, that illusion becomes reality.

These two little things are simple to do allow me to stay at the top of my game and continue impressing those who I work with.

Edit: JRandom pointed out that I made it look like I might be trying to put one over on my boss.  I would like to clarify by stating that I never submit anything unless I have double checked all of my work.  I definitely understand the concept that you can’t polish crap, and I don’t, but I was trying to state that appearance and polish seems to give an extra level of credibility.




6 responses

7 04 2008

Yea, I totally agree with your first point, being business-aware especially in your own region. I love being the one to open my coworkers’, or even manager’s eyes to industry goings-on.

Another, as far as being pop in the workplace is to make good effort to be everyone’s friend. EVERYONE! You gotta be like a social arbitrator, bridging gaps between departments Etc.

7 04 2008

As the CIO of a growing midsize business, here’s how you can really impress older coworkers:

1. Be competent and do the job you were hired. I understand most new employees need some guidance on how things are done here, but please at least demonstrate the core skills for which you were hired.

2. Don’t blow smoke at your older coworkers. Polishing a piece of trash only leaves you with a polished piece of trash. You will be dealt with harshly (and in many cases, deservedly so) if you attempt to put one over on your older coworkers who’ve been here long enough to know the difference between real information and polished junk.

3. Ask relavent questions. Show an interest in the job at hand. We’re more than happy to show you our skill and competence.

4. Master the job at hand before you attempt to take mine. Showing too much ambition before you gain competence at your currrent position labels you as a person who will take any short cut to the top, without benefit of competence, insight or experience.

8 04 2008


Looking at my post it definitely comes off as my trying to “put one over” on my bosses. That is not the case. I always double check my work and my numbers before presenting anything. I was merely trying to state that more questions rise if the work is not polished (not that questions are bad at all).

The list that you wrote is great, and very true. Thanks for the comment!

8 04 2008

In the beginning, questions are good. It gives you the chance to show your knowledge and expertise. This is a very good thing. Many of us have been in the business long enough to be skeptical of highly polished presentations.

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistingushable from a rigged demonstration.”

8 05 2008
Why You Shouldn’t Be Scared To Share Ideas « Young and Frugal

[…] all of my co-workers and bosses are Gen-X and Boomers has been challenging. On one hand it really hasn’t been difficult to impress them, but on the other hand there is no free-flow of ideas. All the people around me seem to think that […]

9 05 2008
You Shouldn’t Be Afraid To Push Your Ideas : Brazen Careerist

[…] all of my co-workers and bosses are Gen-X and Boomers has been challenging. On one hand it really hasn’t been difficult to impress them, but on the other hand there is no free-flow of ideas. All the people around me seem to think that […]

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