– It is more than what is written on paper.

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In the corporate world, when we join a company, we are normally presented with several documents from the Human Resources department which we are asked to sign. As a newcomer, you would be wise not to rush through this process and review each document carefully. If you have questions, ask. You do not want to be surprised if a problem arises during your employment or afterwards as an ex-employee.

Among the papers are such things as a Policy Manual (aka, “Employee Handbook”) which contains the official rules and regulations employees must adhere to in a company. It includes such topics as Employment, Pay Practices, Benefits, Absence from Work, and Personal Conduct.

There may also be such things as a formal job description, a Code of Ethics describing the morality of the company, a non-compete clause which prohibits you from competing with your employer in the future, and possibly a non-disclosure form stating you will protect the company’s intellectual property.

The paperwork may appear overwhelming, but it is intended to protect the company against employees from violating policy. Beyond this, there are other undocumented duties you would be wise to observe:

* A job description may specify your duties and responsibilities, but it is assumed you will do so to the best of your ability, not your worst or even mediocre. If this means putting in a little more time than normal, than so be it. If you join a company and put forth minimal effort, you are violating your duties and becoming an unwanted burden on the company.

* You should remain loyal to your superiors and, as such, refrain from undermining your manager. If you are unhappy with the manager, ask for a transfer or exit the company’s employment, but do not malign your boss until you have left. I realize there are many incompetent managers out there, but you owe your allegiance to the person(s) who employee you. In other words, you are not being paid to badmouth your boss.

* Pursuant to the last point, beyond your manager, resist the temptation to spread rumors and false innuendo. It is wise to conduct yourself professionally, thereby earning the respect of others. This includes acting and looking professional, keeping your work area clean, and helping others.

* Resist the temptation to engage in political battles with others. Undoubtedly, politics will be found in the workplace and your survival may require you to be sensitive to it, but do not lower yourself to the level of your detractors. If you’ve got a problem, take it to your boss and ask for advice. If your boss is a part of the problem, look for advice either from a higher level or the HR department.

* Constantly look for ways to improve yourself, thereby becoming invaluable to the company. Do not assume the company will pay for your education, this is something you must demonstrate initiative. If possible, participate in trade groups, take supplemental training courses, get certified, read trade related periodicals and books, or perhaps go farther and write a research paper for publication. In most cases, if companies understand you are trying to improve yourself, they will support you and will likely pay for some of your expenses. At the very least, they will recognize your potential and endeavor not to lose you.

The duties and responsibilities as spelled out in your job description is one thing, but companies are looking for you to go beyond them. In other words, fulfilling your duties means to go beyond what is in black and white. If you want to make yourself invaluable, go above and beyond the call of duty. In the process, you’ll make your company a better place to live and work, not just for you but for everyone.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at [email protected]

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Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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