When you show up for work at your first job, it’s hard to know what to expect. In school things were pretty straightforward – you went to classes that were led by a teacher. The working world is a little different.
Where You Fit In
Before we talk about your job, let’s talk about where it fits inside a corporation. A company can be tiny, with just a few employees, or it can be a huge corporation, with divisions all over the world. Regardless, the corporation makes a product that is purchased by customers.
Customers are actually the ultimate boss in any company: if you don’t make your customers happy, the company will fail.
Some corporations have stockholders. These are individuals and businesses that have invested in the corporation. As you can imagine, they prefer to see their investment do well.
Next comes the chief executive officer, or CEO. The CEO is the person in charge of, well, everything. Their job is to oversee the daily operations of the entire corporation. To do it, they need a number of officers to bring them information. The CEO reports to the stockholders.
Vice presidents head up operational areas of the corporation, such as finance, production, and customer service. They report to the CEO.
Directors head up a number of departments, such as facilities, accounting, assembly, and service. They report to the vice presidents.
Managers run individual departments. They’ll have job titles like accounting manager and customer service manager. They report to their directors.
Supervisors oversee teams within the departments. The assembly department may have different teams, like the base assembly team, or the column assembly team. The supervisors run these teams, and report to their managers.
Leads are most often people with a lot of experience. Their job is to help newer employees learn the job, and to help resolve simple workflow issues. They report to their supervisor.
Finally, there’s you, the line employee. You are part of the team that makes the entire structure work. Just as there’s no company if the customer doesn’t buy the product, neither is there a company if there’s no one to make the product. That’s you. You are also in the unique position of being able to rise to any of the other positions, from lead to CEO.
How to Work
It seems kind of obvious, but some people don’t really know what to do once they get to work.
As you can see from the structure, your job is to help make the product. Your job might be hands-on, actually making the product, or it could be tangential, such as working in maintenance or facilities. No matter how remote the task, your job plays a critical role in getting the product produced, and making the customer happy. If it wasn’t, the company wouldn’t have hired you to do it.
Your supervisor will explain your task to you. They may assign you to a lead, who will help you with the details of how it’s done, or they may show you the details themselves.
It’s important that you learn the task exactly as you are shown. Learn it completely and quickly, so that you can do it without supervision.
And then do the task. Keep at it, doing it as you were shown, as quickly as you can. You’ll get a break every couple of hours, so you don’t have to worry about burning out. When you’re on the job, work fast.
Here’s why: everyone in the corporate chain, from the customer who wants more of the product all the way down to the lead on your own team, wants the company to grow. Growth means more money, and more opportunities for everyone in the business to advance.
Everyone knows the corporation will only grow with focused, dedicated employees who learn their jobs and do them well. The person who does the minimum amount of work, who wastes time, or tries to get out of assignments, slows the whole business down. That person burns up valuable company resources, forcing the business to compensate for their poor performance. That person will eventually be asked to leave the company.
Nobody forces you to go to work. If you don’t like your job, find another one you do like. But always bring your best game to work.
Make sure you work hard, and work fast. You want to be the person who gets promoted to lead, to supervisor, manager, director, vice president, and perhaps even to CEO. Because you can do it.
At work, you will be assigned a shift. The shift starts at a specific time, and ends at a specific time. You may be asked to work overtime, but generally you’re expected to work a specific number of hours each day.
When you start your shift, you log in, or use a time clock – the system can vary. Regardless, when you clock in, you should be ready to work.
Here’s why: the customer buys products at a specific rate. In order for the product to be available, the company has to produce it at the same rate. The company knows it takes a specific number of person-hours to make products at that rate. If you in clock on time, but then spend a half-hour to get your coffee and chat with your friends, and check for messages on your cell phone, you make the production rate drop, which means fewer products for customers, and a loss of money for the company.
The same holds true for sick days and personal time off. The company will usually allow you a certain number of hours of sick time, because, face it, sometimes you get sick. But when you’re not at work, production slows down, and the company, loses money.
Just because you now have this job, your outside life doesn’t come to an end. It just needs to stay outside for the eight hours you are at work.
Your cell phone stays out of touch when you are working, but can be used during breaks and at lunch.
Crises that happen in your personal life need to wait from the moment you clock in at work in the morning until you clock out at night.
In your personal life, remember that you need to report for work at the same time each day. Don’t get yourself involved in an activity that will make it difficult for you to show up on time, or difficult to work.
Nobody works for free.
You were hired to do your job at a specific rate of pay. How much the company spends for you to do the task is derived from a formula that includes a huge number of things as diverse as how much the customer pays for the product to how much other companies pay for the same kind of task. It’s not an arbitrary number.
Over time, you may find that you get pay increases as your value to the company grows. The amount you get paid is like a contract between you and the company, and it’s confidential.
Because it’s confidential, you must never discuss your pay with your coworkers. It will only sow bad feelings, because someone will get paid less than you and be upset, or you will be upset that someone makes more than you. The truth is that what’s made by other people is none of your business. Just as you wouldn’t want your personal details discussed in public, grant those around you the same right, and don’t talk about your pay.
We all know that no one has a great day every day, but most people have a pretty good day most days.
At work, nobody cares if you’re having a bad day. Each person around you is trying their best to have a great day.
They all know that the kind of day you have is determined only by you. You can convince yourself to have a bad day, or you can make the best of things and make each day is a good one.
While the choice is yours, your attitude determines whether or not you will advance in the company.
Complain and moan about the woes of your job and you will likely be stuck with it for your time with the company.
Make the best of your job, and find things to enjoy about it, and you’ll find that it won’t be long before your promoted to a better, more fun job.
And that’s the key to how to work: understand how your job fits into the company’s overall picture, work hard at what you’re assigned, and make the best of every day.