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Life Skills for Offices

Everything you wanted to know about working in an office, but were afraid to ask

Office Boardroom by Jo_Johnston via Pixabay

I was listening to a podcast the other day when I took off my headphones and announced to my husband, “I should have been an organizational psychologist.”

The podcast was Eat, Sleep, Work, Repeat, a business podcast that provides “bite-sized ways of improving your job.” In this particular episode, the host, Bruce Daisley, was interviewing the amazing Adam Grant about his thoughts on everything from organizational culture to performance reviews to employee motivation. (Grant is an organizational psychologist and as far as I can tell, he has the coolest job on earth.)

I’ve always been fascinated by people’s relationship to their work. Why do people choose the career paths they do? What makes some personality types succeed at certain jobs but not at others? How does an understanding of one’s own values influence one’s leadership style?

Sadly, it’s too late for me to retrain as an organizational psychologist (or any of the other alternative professions I’ve fantasized about.)

Luckily, I’m going to get my own chance to test these waters tomorrow when I start teaching a course at the London School of Economics (LSE) entitled “Life Skills for Offices.” The course is part of my new business as a communications consultant. (More on that another time…)

Most of my work right now involves training people in the higher education sector how to write, speak and lead more effectively. To do this, I draw on my background as both an academic and a journalist.

But I was approached by the LSE to help address a very specific problem. As part of its training, one of the departments at the School will be sending a bunch of Master’s students out into the world to do a nine-month job placement at a company. The catch? None of these people has ever worked before. So they asked me if I would be interested in designing a course that would help prepare people to work in an office.

“Yes, please,” I answered.

If you think about it, this makes a great deal of sense. After all, the very first day you enter a new job, you’re expected to do all sorts of things that you’ve never actually studied. And while some of us might be relatively better or worse at, say, creative problem-solving, it’s not something you are taught directly in university.

This strikes me as precisely the sort of thing we ought to be teaching as we prepare young people for adulthood.

I’m terribly excited. We’re going to be covering a lot of ground in the soft skills space – things like how to prioritise your workload, how to “manage up,” and how to work effectively in a team. And because it’s a workshop, we’ll be doing a lot of exercises, including drawing on my improvisation training.

I’m thinking of giving this course the tag line: “Everything you wanted to know about offices, but were afraid to ask.”

So tell me, because I’d really love your input. What do you know now about working in an office that you wish you’d learned when you first started out?

Please share in the comments section.

Originally published at realdelia.com

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