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Your first day of work can be exciting. You tour the office, eat lunch with the team, learn about employee perks like Fun Friday, review the workplace’s written rules – and then realize these rules clash with the unwritten rules.

The unwritten rules are different at every organization. By quickly recognizing these policies, you’ll settle into the organization quicker, giving yourself a greater opportunity of achieving success at the workplace.

An example of an unwritten rule is the daily working hours. In a typical scenario, the formal policy dictates I work 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. but it’s half past four and no one’s left. If I leave first, will my boss think I was lying when I said I was hard-working in the interview? This concept may be hard to grasp and navigate for a newcomer to Canada – or anyone new to the workforce – trying to launch a career in their new country.

The common mistake is transferring all office etiquette from your previous workplace to the current company because unwritten rules often depend on the leadership and the other ‘office’ influencers. Some open-door policies may mean “Come in whenever, or let’s go for a coffee and chat” while other interpretations are “Come in whenever, but make sure you schedule it on the calendar.” Both these CEOs boast reasonable and similar open-door policies but offer different approaches.

What do you do when you’re unsure?

As Marilyn vos Savant, says “To acquire wisdom, one must observe” so sit tight and watch closely for the workplace norms.


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