There are lots of people starting, or about to start, new jobs in new employers. For some it will be a first job, or at least a first ‘real job’ – which just means the first job on a career path, rather than just a job that pays.I’m mentioning this because the other day I heard someone say that they wouldn’t mix with the receptionist, or joke with the senior managers, because they know their place in the company structure. I was quite shocked that this mentality is still prevalent in any modern workplaces. Once upon a time it might have been true that building relationships across hierarchical levels was frowned upon, but these days being able to communicate with people at all levels of the business is often listed as an essential skill in job descriptions, and valuing all colleagues is a sign of a positive workplace.
As well as being a societal norm, mixing with people at all levels is vital to actually getting things done. For example, receptionists can get you that parking space or room booking; PAs can get you face time with the boss; your department manager can help get a company guideline waived.
It’s also a key component to making work interesting – everyone at work has a story (or 2) – so restricting yourself to people at your level will just make your workplace that bit more boring.
And finally, think self-preservation – your junior today could be your boss tomorrow.
So it’s true that ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’, but bare in mind the ‘who’ is everyone.