A common question that is raised at career talks is that of how much freedom people have to speak up in the work place. Office politics is a tricky area and applying for grad schemes with large companies like Deloitte or the NHS may seem intimidating. I have met some people who are under the impression that working for a large company or organisation means that they have to “pipe down” in the work place. I know I haven’t been working as long as some experts but I thought I would have a go at forming some tips about “speaking up” at work.
- It’s really easy when you first get a job to be super enthusiastic and want to introduce a heap of ideas but HOLD YOUR HORSES! Write them down and think about them before you go announcing them. It’s important to have things well thought out and for you to recognise how you fit in with the organisation before you go proposing system changes or large projects.
- If you are an intern or in a grad scheme you are there to learn. You’re not about to have your head blown off for asking a question in a meeting or contributing, or at least you won’t if your boss is level headed. You’re not meant to know all the answers (unlike when you’re at uni). You will soon gauge how much tact or caution you must have in certain meetings/settings and around certain people.
- If you’re in a meeting and not sure about something and don’t want to say anything, write it down so you remember and ask someone later on in a less public forum. Worst case scenario someone says “oh I wish you’d mentioned that in the meeting, that sounds good!” Even if you don’t mention it to anyone it can cure the “biting your tongue” feeling if you’ve sat on something you want to say.
- This might sound obvious but it’s important to distinguish between personal and professional chatting. It won’t sound good if you make value judgements about someone higher up to a colleague. If you don’t like someone either professionally or personally keep the rant for outside the office. Sometimes it is hard to know who is listening and who that will get back to.
- Equally if you sense office tension or drama don’t feel as though you have to get involved or take a side, even if it’s happening in front of you. It’s important to remain out of any kind of altercation. That’s not to say you shouldn’t defend yourself and your ideas if people approach you directly, or that you should be a doormat. Sometimes it is just best to develop a filter to make sure you don’t get bogged down in some of the things going on above your head.
- I don’t think you’re likely, at least in the UK, to work in an organisation where your colleagues or superiors would discourage innovation or initiative or to publicly humiliate you for presenting an idea. If you do come across somewhere like that (and I do not know people who have) seriously think about whether you want to stay there.
This is just a very short list, I may add to it later. Would be interested in people’s thoughts
Don’t end up like this guy \/