The Hill Life: Mistakes of Youth
May 2, 2012
Perhaps you could do a post on most common mistakes of young employees?
Getting a job is difficult, but after you get the job, starting out on the right foot is critical. Because how things start is a good indicator of how they will finish.
I think there are two mistakes that I would caution new employees against. The first is easy to fix, the second not so much.
We are a less formal society than we used to be. Phone etiquette, e-mail decorum, basic social graces, etc. are important in a professional environment. Sometimes when I call Hill offices, I am horrified by the way that staffers answer the phone. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I hate when the only greeting I receive is, “Congressman Smith’s office.”
I also hate when I get an initial e-mail without a greeting or a signature. When you reply, you can be a less formal, but the first e-mail should always start with “Hello, (name)” and “Sincerely, (name).” However, there are plenty of guides on office etiquette to remedy this situation. Here are some basic e-mail etiquette rules, if you’re curious.
The other mistake that I see a lot of young employees making, especially on the Hill, is that there is not enough separation between their work lives and their personal lives. And while it’s great to have a congenial relationship with your co-workers, ending up in a situation where you spend most of your time with your co-workers can be a bad thing. It can muddy the waters of your professional relationship, it can cause animosities from one life to cross into the other and it doesn’t allow you much room to breathe when things go sideways.
It’s important to have a life outside of work, and too many young employees on the Hill and elsewhere let their lives revolve around their work and their co-workers. I made this mistake when I was younger, and it’s not one I would make again. If it hadn’t been for Miss M, who was my only non-Hill friend for a long time, there were times I might have gone crazy.
So readers, what do you think they biggest mistakes young employees make? Maybe we can help some of our younger visitors avoid the pitfalls we fell into early in our careers.