5 Workplace Rules That Are Made to Be Bent

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Robert Half International

office rulesThere are certain pieces of workplace advice -- show up to work on time and avoid gossiping about your boss or co-workers, for example -- that are never debated. No one will argue against them, and it's necessary to follow them to advance your career. Other rules, however, are more flexible. In fact, you may even benefit from breaking, or at least bending, them. For example, here are five rules that aren't as unbreakable as you might assume:


Workplace rule No. 1: The more hours you put in, the further you'll go

It seems logical that if you spend more time working, you'll enjoy greater career success. But this isn't always the case. Logging more time doesn't necessarily mean you're more productive or turning out better quality work. In fact, spending an excessive amount of time in the office could be a sign you're not working as efficiently as you could be. Are your long hours the result of poor organization or focusing on tasks that are not the highest priority?

Also be aware of the possibility of burnout. Putting in extra hours on occasion is usually not a problem, but making it a habit can lead to significant stress, decreased morale and even health problems. If you find you're constantly treading water, speak to your boss about delegating some of your assignments or bringing in additional help to give you a hand.


Workplace rule No. 2: Take on new assignments whenever you can

Volunteering for additional projects is one of the best ways to build new skills and position yourself for advancement. But biting off more than you can chew can lead to burnout. In addition, volunteering for projects that you are ill-prepared for or unable to handle could set you back. In short, never overpromise and underdeliver. Be strategic about the roles you ask to take on. Do you have the knowledge, skills and experience to successfully complete them? Or will you soon find yourself in over your head? Although you want to stretch your abilities when you can, don't volunteer to organize a large sales tour if the full extent of your event planning experience includes arranging a group lunch and birthday celebration.


Workplace rule No. 3: When you're offered a promotion, take it

During your annual performance review, your boss thanks you for your hard work and contributions to the firm, letting you know she'd like to promote you as recognition for your effort. Although a more impressive title and better pay sound appealing, you should consider the other aspects involved in moving up the ranks before accepting the offer. Do the responsibilities interest you? If you assume a management-level role, for instance, you may not be able to do as much of the hands-on work you enjoy, instead spending your time securing resources, making sure projects move forward and resolving workplace conflicts. Also consider your work/life balance. If the new position requires longer hours or frequent travel, for example, are you willing to make the necessary adjustments to your personal life?


Workplace rule No. 4: Focus on impressing those above you

Your manager has the greatest effect on your career success. He or she not only determines the types of assignments you are given but also can go to bat for you when opportunities to advance arise. But your supervisor isn't the only person who has a say in your success. Don't underestimate how important your relationships with peers can be. When faced with a tight deadline on an important project, help from a colleague could mean the difference between successfully completing the work or not. And the executive assistant in another department could grant you hard-to-get access to a high-level manager when you need resources from his team. So make a point to foster relationships with those at all levels of the organization.


Workplace rule No. 5: Don't be the office chatterbox

You certainly don't want a reputation as the office gossip, but spending a little time each day connecting with colleagues is beneficial. Getting to know your co-workers on a personal level can strengthen your relationships with them. Just be sure your interactions are in moderation; if your chats are interfering with your productivity or interrupting those around you, cut back on them.


Robert Half International Inc. is the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm, with a global network of more than 360 offices worldwide. For more information about our professional services, please visit roberthalf.com. For additional career advice, follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/roberthalf

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