Workplace Etiquette

Here are some tips for workplace etiquette to make a good impression in your position:

  • Practice professionalism - be reliable, on time, dress appropriately, show respect, be positive, stay organized, and follow through on what you say you'll do within a reasonable timeframe or scheduled deadlines.
  • Good communication with supervisors and colleagues - share information, ideas, and updates, ask clarifying questions to ensure you understand, speak clearly, write thoughtfully, proofread your messages, and consider your body language as nonverbal communication.
  • Go above and beyond - contribute to team projects, suggest ways you can help the department, and build transferable skills that can be used in future jobs. 
  • Take responsibility and hold yourself accountable for your work and actions. Operate with honesty and integrity, and show dedication to your work.
  • Request time off as far in advance as possible, typically at least one month in advance (ask your supervisor for their preference).
  • Let your supervisor know if anything isn't working out for you. They should work with you to resolve any issues. If anything could be done differently from your perspective, let them know.

Higher-level goals to help yourself grow and mature include:

  • Ability to manage conflict in the workplace - often this means developing your communication skills.
  • Managing up - this is the concept of making your boss look good by anticipating their needs and providing solutions to problems.
  • Demonstrating leadership - taking initiative, motivating others, and engaging in meetings.

Mastering these good work habits will help you thrive at work and position you for a future raise or promotion.

Getting a Raise

It’s important to have a good grasp of workplace etiquette if your goal is to get a raise or promotion. If you’re new to your position, there is already an opportunity to grow and learn in your new role. It’s typical to be in a position for a year or more (usually 3-5 years) to give yourself enough time to excel and prove yourself in your position. Depending on the company, the timeline may differ.

Here are some tips as you position yourself to make the ask:

  • Show initiative in doing whatever it takes to get your job done, be a stand-out employee, go above and beyond.
  • Actively request feedback from your manager about how you can improve in your current role.
  • Demonstrate your worthiness for a raise or promotion in how you act. Show you can handle issues yourself and make good decisions, either as a leader of your own work or as a leader of a team.
  • Get involved around your organization or industry, whether through collaborations within your department, collaborations outside your department, participating on committees, attending professional events, and showing a general enthusiasm to participate in any way you can.
  • Communicate your value. Reiterate your strengths and accomplishments.
  • Communicate your professional goals. If you know your long-term career objectives and what positions you want to work toward, you can make conscious and strategic decisions to build the necessary skills, and your manager may even be a good advocate for helping you to grow professionally.

A good time to approach this topic with a manager is during your annual performance review and asking if you can dedicate some time to discussing salary. This will be a good way to prepare them for the conversation you’d like to have. Alternatively, you might ask to set up a meeting to discuss compensation with your manager at another time during the year, after completing an important project, or when your manager asks you to expand your job responsibilities.

Tips for asking for a raise or promotion include:

  • List out and then communicate your major accomplishments, matching your contributions to the company and department's needs.
  • Know your value, the value of the position, and your walk-away point.
  • Identify what the best alternative to a successful negotiation is for you.
  • Write out a short script of what you want to say, what you’re asking for, and practice it out loud.
  • Prepare for the most likely responses from your manager and how you’ll respond.
  • Be confident but kind.
  • Review our workshop on Salary Research & Negotiation + Asking for a Raise.

If you don’t end up getting a raise or promotion at first, ask about what benchmarks you can aim for in the next 6-12 months and revisit the question in the future. You may benefit from continuing to grow in your current position. Revisit the tips above to better position yourself next time around. If there is no room for growth within your company, you may consider changing jobs and moving to another company.