How can I chase my ambitions without offending others?

Friday August 14 2020

Dear Jane,
I was recently employed at a clearing and forwarding company and I really love my job. However, I have noticed that whenever I talk about my ambitions or go an extra mile to excel in my roles, my colleagues get annoyed. At first it didn’t bother me, but now I am worried that I may create enemies at my new workplace. How can I blend in here without being a nuisance to everyone else? Joan

Dear Joan,
You are in a new territory and you must be cautious as you settle down. First, seek to learn the company’s written and unwritten culture. Talk less and observe the non-verbal cues keenly. Do not isolate yourself; interact with all your colleagues. There is usually the temptation to discard one’s authentic identity in an attempt to fit in. Do not fall into it. Stick to your principles because your personality is what defines you.
To make a good first impression, maintain a cool demeanor and learn the character of your colleagues so that you can gain insights on how to interact with each of them. Try to build rapport with that one colleague who looks resourceful. However, be wary of colleagues who always complain without making any attempts to leave or change things at the workplace. Listen to this lot without offering any comments, and don’t let them change your view of the organisation.
Also, avoid the gossipers, because they will be telling your story to someone else next time. Take time to learn the positive traits of each individual, for everyone has something unique to offer. Be slow criticise, as some may think you are trying to discredit other colleagues. In fact, wait until you’ve been confirmed in your position before giving feedback or offering suggestions, and use the right words and tone when doing this.
Once confirmed, aspire to make an impact in your role. Don’t rush the growth process. If your role gets boring after a while, ask for more responsibilities. This will help you position yourself strategically for the next career growth opportunity.
However, don’t be blind to the fact that there may be many others interested in the same role. Make sure your supervisor is aware that you are looking for extra roles and seek feedback, especially on your areas of weakness, and make an effort to improve.
Meanwhile, enjoy the new environment and understand the different characters. The world would be a boring place if there were no divergent personalities and views in the workplace.

Jane Muiruri
Senior HR Manager, Nation Media Group