A theme of my week seems to be office optics. You know, how things look, how you are perceived by others.
Has anyone ever stopped by your desk to say: “Where is [your neighbor]?” and you don’t know, haven’t seen them in an hour or so, and there’s nothing on their calendar? Bad optics. What about the working parent who CC’s the whole team – and not just the boss – to say “My daycare just called, baby has a fever, I have to go get them. I’ll be taking the rest of the day off”? Good optics! Be transparent. It goes a long way.
Whether you like it or not, appearances do matter. People do judge books by covers. And you know how you only get one chance to make a good first impression? This is particularly important at any new job. So when you’re transitioning from academia, especially a faculty or grad student role, into a staff role, here’s a handy table of mindsets that must change to help you have better optics.
|Time Management||What time management? I start at 11 am and stay up til 3 am to write and grade papers.||Be on time, consistently, every day.|
Get your work done, at work, during work hours.
|Research||Endless! Your goal is to become an expert.||Your goal is to gather the info you need to do a task. Set boundaries. Stop when you’ve got enough info to tackle the task in front of you.|
Save a deeper dive for work “down” time or your free time.
|Communication||Email to individuals|
Long chats in shared TA / RA office space & labs.
|Email among the team. Don’t leave people out. |
Face to face is important.
Not everyone in the office wants to shoot the breeze.
|Function||To be a listener, to absorb, to learn.||To be a team member. A contributor. To take ownership of & be accountable for action items.|
|Hours||Set your own.||Be at your desk. |
Be on time for meetings.
Show on your calendar where you are going to be and when.
|Productivity||Measured by you submitting your papers on time. So the bulk of your time is yours to use – for gaming, surfing the web, whatever you wish.||People notice when you’re shopping, or scrolling away on social media. |
Have tasks at the ready for “down” time – benchmarking, research, learning a new skill.
|Preparation||You can get away with winging it – you’re a pro at skimming & acting like you did the readings. You can lecture off the cuff.||Do your homework before a project kicks off. Who is involved? What do you anticipate the work will entail? Come prepared to chime in.|
There’s some additional great tips here in “5 Tips to Help you Get Noticed at Work” by Ryan Wiggins.