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are lucky enough to work for Google or a similar tech company, your only way to climb the ladder and do well in the organiza- tional structure is to settle into the years and years of processes and protocols that have made these organizations millions and billions of dollars. Be careful though, although conformity for many of us may be an ugly word, remember that it does not require you to fly under the radar. Conforming to a business culture should not kill your innovative nature.

Are there unspoken but important rules that must be followed to succeed? If so, name three. Bennett: 1) Dress matters. The company culture is demon- strated through every employee’s actions. Your outward appear- ance affects how you are perceived, especially when it comes to professional settings. I found that tailoring my professional wardrobe to mirror that of the senior level executives trans- formed the way I presented myself and not only impacted my professional development but helped me to excel personally. 2) Be proactive. Organizations want staff that will go that extra mile, be creative and improve the organization, team or customer mission. One of the important questions that I always ask candidates who I interview is, “how would you spend your time if there were a lull in work” 3) Have a solution. The best way to take a challenge to lead- ership and enlist their help is to do your homework and come up with ideas to resolve the issue. That shows that you really care and you are taking initiative to help the organization succeed. Carr: 1) Shine bright, just don’t be glaring. No one likes a


2) Speak up and speak loud, just don’t yell. No one likes a know-it-all who knows nothing.

3) Be ambitious but only behind the veil. This one, I must admit, I have a hard time with. While Generation X and the Baby-boomers have spent their lives climbing the corporate ladder, I have dreams and visions of flying over it. The problem with that, however, is that you may miss out on some important information or mentoring and learning experiences because more seasoned co-workers distrust your motives. Be careful, don’t allow your motivation and ambition to destroy opportunities to receive mentorship; knowledge transfer from mentors like Albert Sweet from iSTEMS LLC. have been some of my greatest learn- ing experiences.

Is workplace etiquette important and why? Bennett: Absolutely it is. You always want to present yourself as a professional in your verbal and nonverbal (body language) communication. As you learn the culture of an organi- zation, you will understand how you should behave if you want respect from others. Respect has to be earned, and you can gain respect by consistently working hard and conducting yourself in a positive and professional manner. Carr: Etiquette on the job requires the use of a little com- mon sense for the younger generation. Most of us have good

“You always want to present yourself as a professional in your verbal and nonverbal (body lan- guage) communication. As you learn the culture of an organiza- tion, you will understand how you should behave if you want respect from others.”

— Carol Bennett, a senior program manager,

General Dynamics

home training, and our parents taught us the basics of common courtesy and etiquette pretty well. However, they never knew that Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter would present their kids with another way to violate rules that just seem com- mon sense. Do not use social media at work, period, that is all.

What’s the best way to handle on-the-job conflicts? Bennett: The best ways in my opinion are good com- munication and embracing diversity of opinions through either compromise or collaboration to resolve conflicts. Carr: The carbon copy (CC) will be your best friend.

(whispers…. The blind carbon copy (bcc) works, too. Remember your veil). Paper trails will become your best friend if you are being treated unfairly. Maintain anonymity if you must to protect yourself.

What are the realities about being assertive at work? Bennett: It is definitely possible to get things accomplished and assert your point without being aggressive. One good tech- nique is to solicit buy-in from your immediate supervisor and peers to gain advocacy to help push your agenda. Carr: If you’re not the boss, no one really listens to you.

You don’t want to be the young bud that no one likes and every- one laughs at when you leave the room because your assertive- ness is usually ignored. I’m the only person doing my doctoral research at my institution and workplace, my ideas and beliefs often fall on death or unresponsive ears. If you are going to be assertive, allow for facts and data to affirm your beliefs, not your personality.


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