With Shark Week under way, we thought it would be fun to think of how shark safety can guide you in the office environment. Many of the shark safety guidelines detailed by National Geographic can be translated into good practices for any career minded individual.
1) “Avoid areas where animal, human, or fish waste enter the water. Sewage attracts bait fish, which in turn attract sharks.”
Gossip attracts trouble and can leave you in deep water with your manager and colleagues. Avoid being drawn into gossip and avoid the temptation to join in. Not only does gossip usually lead to an uncomfortable situation, it’s also a huge waste of company time and not what you’re in the office to do.
As a manager or employee, if you notice an increase in the amount of negative gossip going on in the office then there’s a few things you can do:
- Meet with your team to discuss and put an end to the negative talk quickly.
- If the conversations are always started by a particular individual then meet with them and explain that the gossip needs to stop.
- Lead by example. By being seen to remove yourself from the negative conversation you will encourage others to do the same. Pretty soon the amount of gossip in the office will start to reduce.
- Make an effort to instigate positive discussions with your colleagues, reducing the amount of time available for gossip.
2) “Stay out of the water at dawn, dusk, and night, when some species of sharks may move inshore to feed on fish.”
If you’re able, choose your working hours to maximise your productivity. If you’re a morning person, and naturally wake early, then head to the office to get some work done while it’s quiet and distraction free. If your employer offers flexible working then it’s entirely possible that you can adjust your working hours to start and finish early, giving you more personal time in the evenings.
Staying late is only good if that’s the time you work best, there’s no point is remaining in the office after hours if you’re not actually doing anything productive.
You work best when you have the most energy, couple this with times when there are also little or no distractions and you have a particularly productive period. Spend a few days monitoring these factors and adjust your work schedule to suit.
3) “Do not wear high-contrast clothing (orange and yellow are said to be risky colours) or shiny jewellery (which may appear to be like fish scales). Sharks see contrast very well.”
Standing out for the wrong reasons in the office is never good for your career. If you want to be noticed then make sure it’s for the right reasons such as a job well done or helping other. Getting a reputation for being difficult to deal with, overly aggressive or having a poor absence record.
It’s not just in the office that you need to be careful and think about your actions. Many people still don’t appreciate the connection between what they say on social networks and the real world. The easiest and safest way to conduct yourself online is to assume that ANYONE can see EVERYTHING you say. If you wouldn’t say something to your boss then don’t put it in a comment or update on Facebook!
4) “Refrain from excessive splashing. Keep pets, which swim erratically, out of the water. Sharks are attracted to such activity.”
Making the right noises in the office can be great for your career, but getting noticed for the wrong reasons (as mentioned above) can be damaging for your personal brand. Choose when to make yourself known and, more importantly, when not to.
Thinking about what you’re about to say, and making sure that it’s thought through and a good contribution, will help to ensure that you’re noticed for offering sound and logical suggestions and/or advice.
When you do contribute make sure it’s positive. Even of you are pointing out a problem, follow it up solution and positive spin, by ending on a positive note, this is what will be remembered by everyone else involved.
5) “Leave the water quickly and calmly if a shark is sighted. Do not provoke, harass, or entice a shark, even a small one.”
If you’re drawn into a dispute in the office which can’t be resolved quickly and quietly then remove yourself from the situation. Don’t continue to argue your point if you’re not getting anywhere or tempers are escalating as this will only exacerbate the situation.
If you’re directly involved then seek advice from a manager or HR, take some time to calm down and get back to a state of mind where you can think clearly and rationally.
If you know you’re in the wrong then it’s up to you to swallow your pride and apologise before the situation escalates, this not helps to resolve the situation but also is likely keep you out of further trouble.
6) “If fish or turtles start to behave erratically, leave the water. They may be behaving like that because there is a shark in the area.”
If you’re just starting with a new company, learning the culture from experienced staff is a great strategy to integrate yourself into the ways of everyday life. Mentor programs are often run by brands to help new employees fit in by offering them a point of contact for questions or concerns.
Learning other areas of the business such as the systems in use, where certain resources are or who to speak to in particular situations, from existing employees is usually the best strategy. THere may be little tips and tricks that manuals wouldn’t address that your new colleagues will happily divulge.
7) “Swim, surf, or dive with other people. Sharks most often attack individuals.”
Never be afraid to ask for help. part of the working day is collaboration, that’s why there are so many tools and methods available online. Making the most of the skill sets that you and your colleagues have is the most efficient way of achieving project goals and the results you need.
8) “Don’t wander too far from shore. Doing so isolates you and places you away from assistance.”
Make an effort to engage with your colleagues, those in direct proximity to you and in different departments and locations. Familiarity will not only make it easier for you to ask for assistance when needed, but it will also make it more likely that you’ll get a ‘yes’ in response to your request.
Isolating yourself and not engaging with others will effectively mean that you’re on your own, which isn’t good for a career. We all need help from time to time.