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4 Rules of Engagement Never Found in a Job Description

Job Description Watch Outs

My latest St. Louis Post-Dispatch column is now live!  This month’s article is all about the difference between a job description and the things you REALLY have to do in that role in the workplace. Below is an excerpt.

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Have you ever asked someone if their job description adequately describes what they do in their job and they respond, “Sit down, let me tell you what I really do.”

Why is this often the case?

As a career coach, I often see a huge difference between a job description and how it actually comes to life. For example, colleges are great at developing students and providing opportunities to learn a skill set you can market. However, whenever you implement a skill set that interacts with human beings in some way, shape or form, there are expectations — on the part of the hiring manager and co-workers — that come with that job that simply aren’t taught in a class. These rules of engagement usually aren’t even spoken of during a job interview.

So, when starting a new job, how can you uncover its hidden rules of engagement?

Rule 1: Look for the Alpha in the pack, and learn the pecking order.

It won’t take long to discover whose behavior or voice becomes dominant in workplace conversations/meetings. Pay attention when you hear something like, “When it comes to budgets, Mr. Green will want you to deliver information this way … ” or “By the way, don’t get Diane on your bad side — and beware, she has her three subordinates taking note of what you say … ” It’s one thing to understand the organizational chart. It’s another to see how everyone plays together — and how you can play well with everyone.

Rule 2: Find out what behaviors get rewarded – a.k.a. “office politics.”

Managers who believe their department doesn’t have politics are clueless to the dynamics within their organization. If you want to become a star performer, you have to fully understand what behaviors your manager will reward…

Read the rest of this column here.