She did what at work?

Spend enough time in any workplace and you’re bound to witness someone in a “seriously, WTF?” moment. Let’s just make sure that person isn’t you…

It can be difficult to figure out what passes for acceptable behaviour on the job these days. If Mark Zuckerberg can wear thongs at Facebook, surely it’s OK for all of us, right? Not quite, and the higher-ups we spoke to agree that some things are never OK. Read and learn.

She came dressed for the club

“I work with a lot of bosses who tell me their junior staff turn up to the office dressed as if they’re ready for Friday night: with short skirts, high heels and big hair. Or they’re wearing jeans and tops more suited to the weekend than a corporate environment. First impressions are formed in three seconds – if you’re not dressing the part it’s unlikely you’ll be taken seriously by clients, or that your boss will promote you.” Fiona Blayney, director of Blayney Potential Plus, a Sydney-based real estate coaching business.

Lesson learnt

“In order to help you move up thecorporate ladder, analyse why your boss’s attire works for her,” says Kristina Moore of the Corporate Fashionista blog. Follow the lead of the smartly dressed women in your office for style inspiration and invest in a few key pieces, such as a sophisticated leather handbag. If you’re still stuck, try an app such as Stylebook to plan your work outfits.

She was indiscreet on social media

“I once had a regular intern who also blogged on the side – and decided to use the blog to demonstrate her creativity when she applied for a full-time role. But it turned out she’d used it to bitch about various people in the office, in avery thinly veiled way.

I had to tell her, ‘Listen, even if you’re not actually naming people, it’s still obvious to us who they are.’ Let’s just say she wasn’t offered the role. Another junior applied for a more senior job, didn’t get it, and tweeted her disgust on the company Twitter!” Chloe Flynn, supervising producer, The Morning Show.

Lesson learnt

When you’re a junior starting out, everything you do – from the time you arrive and leave, to what you write on your blog – gets noticed. Everyone will be watching you. So keep your work and social media lives separate. Don’t moan about office issues to the world.

She abused work email to score shopping discounts

“We had a new, straight-out-of-uni employee whose role included managing customer feedback emails. She had new packages arriving daily from online shopping sites. One weekend I took on her tasks, and noticed one of the sites’ daily emails were being sent to the company’s customer-service list. This employee had used the account to take advantage of the website’s ‘invite a friend’ discount. She ultimately left the company – and it was directly related to this incident.” Head of marketing at a computer software company.

Lesson Learnt

Company resources are not there to be exploited for your personal gain. Show colleagues you respect the divide between personal communications and professional ones. People will notice what you’re doing at work, so leave the shady stuff at home. Or altogether.

She was overly familiar

It’s OK to ask someone how their weekend went – but if you’re junior or new, asking your boss about her private life is always a no. “This one girl always lounged around in the office when everyone else was frantically running around. She asked our big boss whether she was seeing anyone and called me ‘babe’ on day two! Our relationship deteriorated further the next day when she showed me her blog, full of half-naked selfies.” Chloe Flynn

Lesson learnt

Observe the vibe in an office. If it’s a formal environment, have a sense of hierarchy. In a casual environment you might be able to joke around, but you should always show deference to someone senior – they are not your equal, they have the power to hire, fire or promote you. It doesn’t matter what you think of your boss – it’s more important what they think of you! Don’t pass comment on their personal life unless you are invited to.