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.